All Systems Fail
Deichtorhallen Hamburg presents All Systems Fail, the most comprehensive exhibition of the American artist Sarah Morris to date. The retrospective showcases a total of over 180 artworks; paintings, her entire cinematic production, drawings, film posters and sculpture provide an overview of thirty years of the artist’s groundbreaking work.
Friederike Herr speaks with Sarah Morris about her beginnings in the New York art world of the 90s, why failure is an important part of her work and how she inspired the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie to make a film.
Since the 1990s, Morris has produced a large body of work which reflects her interest in networks, typologies, globalization, architecture and the metropolis. Through her use of both reality and vivid abstraction, Morris creates a new language of place and politics. She sees her paintings as self- generating, open to interpretation, motion and change, giving the viewer a heightened sense that they are part of a larger system. Creating a virtual architecture and language of forms, the work incorporates a wide array of subjects ranging from multinational corporations, architecture, generic stem cell technology, Academy Awards, the Olympics, transportation networks, mapping, lunar cycles, museums, printing presses, factories of all types, fashion and mail systems to name just a few. Politics, power, and economy as well as advertising and entertainment are encoded into the aesthetics of her canvases.
In her films, a parallel practice to the paintings, Morris explores the psycho-geography and the dynamic nature of cities in flux through the multi-layered and fragmented narratives she captures. The situations the artist places herself and the viewers within reflect the hierarchies we inhabit. Uniquely playing with the contradiction of our complicity with structures both macro and micro, Morris is considered one of the most intriguing artists of her generation.
“For me, it’s about creating a certain situation that I find gives me adrenaline, gives me a charge. If you have ever been in a taxi driving up Sixth Avenue, you have a sense of repulsion and a sense of empowerment simultaneously. To capture that volume or that sense of adrenaline is something that I was after. With the paintings, I suppose there is a creation of retinal afterimages. It is not representation in any direct photographic way. This is going back to this idea of synesthesia: something almost like a color imprint after an emotion, linking to a very specific place or an experience of something that is streamlined. I try in the films to create different situations that I’ve been in or that I desire, and that somehow trigger that context for me.”
About Sarah Morris
Sarah Morris, born in 1967, is an American artist living and working in New York. Her work has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions in international museums including Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, (2018); Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo (2017); Kunsthalle Wien, (2016); M Museum, Leuven (2015); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2014); Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen (2013); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2012); Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot (2012); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2009); Museo d‘Arte Moderna di Bologna (2009); Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel (2008); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2005); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2005); Miami MOCA (2002); Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D. C. (2002); Nationalgalerie at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2001); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2000); Kunsthalle Zurich (2000); Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Lepizig (2000); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1999) and Centre D’Art Contemporain, Dijon (1998).