Films and videos / Bodyspace motionthings. Morris's exhibition focuses primarily upon his films and videos, which rank among the most innovative experiences concerning the relationship between cinema and the visual and performing arts in the second half of the twentieth century. Cinema is for Morris not only a medium to document ephemeral actions and record their respective moments and duration, but also an artistic language full of potential.
curated by Ryan Roa and João Fernandes
Since the 1960s and 70s, Robert Morris (Kansas City, 1931) has played a pioneering role in changing the paradigms of contemporary artistic language. After moving to New York in 1959, Morris became one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater ― a meeting place for visual and performance artists, whose activities were redefined by working processes based on improvisation and collaboration used as methods for fostering encounters and creation. During this period, Morris choreographed various works ― including Arizona (1963), 21.3 (1964), Site (1964) and Waterman Switch (1965). Blending the language of minimalist sculpture with process art, his artistic production of this period was presented outside traditional gallery or museum spaces. Remarkable too are his large-scale artistic projects in the landscape (earthworks).
Several of his earliest minimalist objects were created for dance performances. Drawing upon his prior training in engineering, Morris placed great emphasis on new materials, their characteristics and activation/transformation processes. A series of sculptures using wood and metal was followed by works exploring soft or flexible materials, e.g. felt and various other materials diverted from their original functions. In this context, Morris began to investigate specific qualities, such as weight, gravity and balance. He also dedicated himself to writing criticism and essays, and is the author of several key texts of contemporary artistic reflection.
Robert Morris’s exhibition in the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art will focus primarily upon his films and videos, which rank among the most innovative experiences concerning the relationship between cinema and the visual and performing arts in the second half of the twentieth century. Cinema is for Morris not only a medium to document ephemeral actions and record their respective moments and duration, but also an artistic language full of potential.
In Serralves Robert Morris will present his films, alongside a reconstitution of the seminal work Bodyspacemotionthings, that he originally conceived for London’s Tate Gallery in 1971, and re-presented in Tate Modern in 2009. The work is open to participation by the general public and activated by the spectator’s physical involvement. The visitor is invited to step up, slide and balance using the work’s various elements (cylinders, ramps, tunnels and walls) and thus become a core participant in the artistic process. As a result, the installation constitutes a milestone in the history of contemporary art. More than seeing, doing and participating become key actions that revolutionize the condition of being a spectator.
The present exhibition is one of the outstanding moments in the Improvisation/Collaborations series, following the presence in Serralves of other artists with whom he has collaborated (as with the cycle recently dedicated to Babette Mangolte) or the inclusion of his works in the “Off the Wall” exhibition, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art (which staged the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work, in 1970). Numerous shows have featured Morris’s work, prominent among which was a major retrospective exhibition held in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, in 1994.
17th September, 5.30pm, by Ricardo Nicolau (exclusive for Amigos de Serralves)
29th September, 6.30pm, by João Fernandes
For further information or for images request, please contact: Sandra Olim
Assessoria de Comunicação S.Olim@serralves.pt
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art
Rua D. Joao de Castro, 210 Oporto