Alex Morrison’s practice spans a variety of media in work that examines the relationships between urban and domestic space, memory, and the struggle for subjective identity. In the exhibition, the work Free Room, translated these themes into a three-channel DVD work based, in part, on Lindsay Anderson’s cult classic film, If, of 1968. Freely interpolating from the film’s depiction of the claustrophobic relationship between alienated youths, Free Room was set in a single room where the characters discuss, joke and plot, about sex, politics and death – the elements of a projected free life. Using images clipped from a variety of magazines, the three characters mapped out a set of identifications and the means to deflate them; they appropriated images in order to domesticate their rhetorical force. The work illustrated this transitional point of experience, a plane of action that is divorced from both the compliance of childhood and the complex morality of independent choice.
Accompanying Free Room in the exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery, was a selection of silkscreen posters and drawings, together called Gesucht! (Wanted!). Similar in theme to *not the actual apartment (2001), these works dealt with idealized architectural space as lifestyle.
ALEX MORRISON - GIVING THE STORY A TREATMENT is published by Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, and Nicolaus Schafhausen, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main With a text by Lars Bang Larsen and an interview by Jeff Derksen, with texts in English and German. Giving the Story a Treatment is the first comprehensive publication on the Canadian artist Alex Morrison (*1971).
In his documentations of youth lifestyles, particularly the culture of skaters, Alex Morrison questions to what extent sub-cultural expressions can be considered authentic, especially in the face of strategies of staging and their commercialization by the media. The renowned Canadian writer Jeff Derksen and Danish art critic Lars Bang Larsen contribute penetrating perspectives into Morrison's work, linking it in a historical continuum with activist moments of recent history and contemporary events.
(...) I have always been interested in what forms radical or sub-cultural activities will inhabit once they eventually make their debut upon the greater cultural field. Perhaps, in these new forms, the message becomes buried under commodification and the particularities of critique lost through the move towards a greater generality and appeal to the largest demographic. In Free Room one question I sought to ask was: are these forms capable of carrying a viable critique? Or in simpler terms: which is more effective, direct action or cultural production? (Alex Morrison)
Published with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Foreign Affairs Canada and Künstlerhaus Bethanien.MORE