Cal­lum Morton
Gas and Fuel

27th September – 19th October 2002
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Cal­lum Morton’s lat­est work at Anna Schwartz Gallery is called Gas and Fuel. Mel­bour­ni­ans will know this as the name of their own ver­sion of the twin tow­ers, an unlove­ly pair of util­i­tar­i­an high-ris­es demol­ished to make way for new devel­op­ments at Fed­er­a­tion Square. In the mid­dle of the gallery stands a 1:34 scale mod­el of the Gas and Fuel edi­fices, craft­ed with the mod­el-mak­er fas­tid­i­ous­ness we’ve come to expect from Mor­ton. At first, as you nego­ti­ate this object, its appar­ent prag­ma­tism and lack of seduc­tive appeal are off-putting. Dis­ap­point­ing. Is anoth­er unin­flect­ed archi­tec­tur­al scale mod­el from Cal­lum Mor­ton real­ly enough any­more, you find your­self ask­ing. And then it hap­pens, the psy­chic punch line to the whole emo­tion­al­ly vacant set up. A bare­ly audi­ble squeak of a voice is acti­vat­ed from with­in one of the tow­ers: Help me. Please help me!’ And again: Help me. Please help me.’ It’s the voice from the final scene of the 1958 movie The Fly, where the insect-sized man-fly, trapped in a spider’s web, pleads for a res­cue that won’t ever come. Mor­ton man­ages to make this both the cry of the doomed Gas and Fuel build­ing and, inevitably if not inten­tion­al­ly, an echo of scream­ing human souls lost on Sep­tem­ber 11.

In that read­ing, gas and fuel’ has a whiff of gal­lows humour which chal­lenges good taste. Hard to say if that’s inten­tion­al as well. Mor­ton plays every­thing so close to the chest, any crit­i­ca posi­tion­ing of his prac­tice comes down to guess­work. Intu­ition. Per­haps clair­voy­ance. Maybe you have to be a ghost to under­stand ghostliness.”


Bruce James with Chris Win­ter, Night Club’, ABC Radio Nation­al, 14 Octo­ber 2002

Images

Cal­lum Morton

Gas and Fuel, 2002
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Cal­lum Morton

Gas and Fuel, 2002
Instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne