Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris’ Los Angeles is part of an ongoing series of works by the artist that approach cities as films and where both film and city constitute each other mainly as images. Las Vegas offered itself as template of façades and was loaded atmospherically, whilst Washington functioned primarily as a collage of pictures of power.

Los Angeles, though, is Hollywood and thus indicates a new framework of always already given filmic visibility. Again and again, the film films filming, cameras appear in front of the camera and place Morris’ focus on the processes of image production and distribution that the film itself shows and prolongs.

Over and over, consciously and explicitly, Morris gets (too) close to her material and accompanies Hollywood stars and producers as well as the costumes and accessories of the industry from a proximity that is both voyeuristic and seductive. Whilst seemingly granting insight, the film itself moves into the influence of the dream factory it supposedly presents to the viewer. Ostensibly only picturing Hollywood, the film seems to project Morris’ work and Hollywood’s industry onto each other. Editing, the prominent soundtrack as well as the overall opulence of the film’s images thus oscillate nearly indistinguishably between citation and commentary.

Even the allegorical step behind the stage and the producer on the phone in the back of his car, getting undressed and changed with the help of an assistant, are stripped of their transgressive potential through the sheer laconic indifference with which they become visible. If at all, discomfort is triggered by the very seamlessness combining all this and looping the pictures into an endless sequence in the gallery context.

Sarah Morris deals with Hollywood at a time when there does not seem to be a point of revelation any longer, with scandals and revelations having become strategic parts of the film industry’s self staging in the same way that the ironic end of harmony has. Even the possibility itself of these images being made, refers back to the contacts and positions that must have made this sort of access possible. Morris’ own approach inhabits this field without either simply regarding it or ever really participating. Its status as an artwork provides the context that allows for the work to establish the kind of tactical distance the film itself then transgresses in its move to being ‘too close’.



"Los Angeles" (2004) (35mm/DVD 26”12’) Photo: Sean Dack.