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