November 16, 2009 - Kunstinstituut Melly - new publication by Sarah Morris
November 16, 2009

new publication by Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris, Beijing, 2008.

Sarah Morris


Witte de Withstraat 50
3012 Br Rotterdam, Nl
+31 (0)10 411 0144
info [​at​]

Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris creates paintings and films in which she traces urban and social topologies. She explores both the psychology of the contemporary city and its architecturally encoded politics in order to survey how a particular moment can be inscribed and embedded into its visual surfaces. Morris assesses what today’s architectural façades and urban structures, cities and nations, might conceal. Often, these non-narrative fictional analyses result in conspiratorial studies of power, the structures of control, and global socio-political networks. Her most recent film, Beijing (2008), explores the spectacle that unfolded during the opening of the 2008 Olympics. Shot from multiple perspectives, Beijing captures the variances within the city, from the urban routine of its citizens to the choreographed actions of various heads of state.

Beijing is a feature-length film that portrays not only the Games’ locations and protagonists, but also those of other kinds of ‘contests’ raging in China today, for instance, in industry and architecture. The extreme manifestation of power and the astronomical amounts of money absorbed – and produced – by such an event go beyond branding as a mere marketing tool, establishing instead a kind of ‘nation-branding’, a political apparatus to re-position entire countries and cultures. Morris’ film is a surreal portrait of an authoritarian state of turbo-capitalism during a period when the International Olympic Committee effectively took over sovereignty of the capital city. It depicts a hitherto closed country at a moment of apparent and possibly theatrical openness, a hidden culture at a moment of extreme visibility. Consequently the film questions the authorship of the spectacle, who is in control, and ultimately, the role of the artist.

The eponymous book is richly illustrated with stills from the film and with additional photographs shot during its making. Anthony Lane, reporting on the Olympic Games for The New Yorker, wrote an evocative description of this moment in the Chinese capital, capturing not only the sporting event but also the emotion of the spectators and the broader social implications and political overtones of the Games. His insightful and entertaining reportage is reprinted here in full.

Writing from the perspective of someone working in China, Colin Chinnery examines Morris’ process of making Beijing and how the bureaucracy that she faced ultimately shaped her subject and the structure of her film. And Andrea Phillips explores the work in relation to Morris’ earlier films, noting that whilst it refrains from passing judgement on the moral standards behind powerful conglomerates – such as the Games themselves – the film evokes the way in which we all play an active role in their construction.

This publication is a collaboration between MAMbo—Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, and Witte de With. It accompanied the exhibitions Sarah Morris—China 9, Liberty 37 at MAMbo—Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (May—July 2009); Sarah Morris—Gemini Dressage at MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (May—August 2009) and accompanies the current group exhibition Morality at Witte de With (on view until 10 January 2010).

Texts: Anthony Lane, Colin Chinnery, Andrea Phillips, with a foreword by the editors. 120 full page color- and 8 b/w photographs, including film stills and images from the film shoot.

Language: English
Format: Hardcover, 225 x 305 mm, 288 pages
Printed in Germany
ISBN 978-86560-646-4

Artist: Sarah Morris
Editors: Susanne Gaensheimer, Zoë Gray, Gianfranco Maraniello, Sophie von Olfers, Nicolaus Schafhausen, Andrea Viliani
Design: Richard Massey
Published by: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König

The book is available at Witte de With, MMK and MAMbo, and via the following distributors:
For Europe: Koenig Books
For Switzerland: Buch 2000, c/o AVA, Affoltern
For the Americas: D.A.P., New York
For UK and Ireland: Cornerhouse, Manchester

Kunstinstituut Melly
Share - new publication by Sarah Morris
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York