Spring 2005 Talks
In her latest short film, Los Angeles, Sarah Morris (b.1967, Sevenoaks, Kent, UK) depicts the city's spectacular architecture, its sprawling urban plan and, most importantly, its role as a center for image production. Shot in twelve days using a 35mm CinemaScope camera, Morris's panoramic film of Los Angeles portrays the days leading up to the Oscars, capturing the isolation and alienation of a city built on the superficial successes of its industry. She crosscuts between footage of red-carpet celebrities, Botox injections and tanning, local architecture, and hopeful scriptwriters photocopying their scripts at Kinko's. Like her past film portraits of other American metropolises—Miami, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and New York—Los Angeles is part of a larger body of work that includes Morris's large-scale paintings, for which she is perhaps best known. Using extravagant colors that echo a city's unique visual vocabulary, Morris transforms structures, light effects on windows, and neon signs into sweeping geometric abstractions of America's most iconic cityscapes.
In his sculptures and large-scale installations, Olafur Eliasson (b.1967, Copenhagen, Denmark) uses the stuff of nature—-light, steam, water, fire, and wind—-to examine how the relationship between the natural world and culture shifts when manipulated within a fixed space. In past projects, he has constructed an artificial rainbow, reversed the direction of a waterfall, and, most famously, transformed the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall with representations of the sun and sky. The Weather Project, commissioned in 2003 for the Tate Modern's acclaimed Unilever Series, featured a giant semi-circular form, made of hundreds of mono-frequency lamps. The ceiling above the lamps was replaced by a mirror, which reflected the light. A fine mist permeated the space, as if creeping in from the environment outside. By leaving electrical wiring and the mist-making machine in plain sight, Eliasson compelled his viewers to weigh the dramatic sensory impact of a brilliantly glowing sun in the sky against the installation's obvious construction and artifice.
Childhood obsessions, material culture, and autobiography are at the heart of Keith Edmier's figurative sculpture, which ranges from a virginal depiction of his elementary-school crush, Jill Peters, to his rosy-hued portrait of his mother when she was nine months pregnant with Edmier. In 2002, Edmier (b.1967, Chicago, IL) famously collaborated with 1970s pop icon Farrah Fawcett on a series of portraits, which culminated with their joint exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Edmier's depictions of plant and animal life, which he creates in parallel with his figurative work, are meditations on primordial life, death, regeneration and sexuality. His most recent exhibition at Friedrich Petzel Gallery was the result of a three-year odyssey to create a new method of casting sculpture using molten lava. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Cycas Orogeny, depicted both the male and female form of palm-like plants that have lived on earth for millions of years.
Public Art Fund Talks are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.