Cal­lum Morton
Neigh­bour­hood Watch

1st May – 28th June 2014
Anna Schwartz Gallery

Cal­lum Morton’s Neigh­bour­hood Watch’ refers to par­tic­u­lar sculp­tur­al mon­u­ments in the City of Mel­bourne. A con­tin­u­a­tion of his recent series Cov­er Up, these new works are altered repro­duc­tions of exist­ing stat­ues, erect­ed as memo­ri­als to Burke and Wills, Matthew Flinders, Adam Lind­say Gor­don, the Mar­quis of Lin­lith­gow, and Cap­tain Cook. Re-scaled at a quar­ter of their orig­i­nal size, on pedestals scaled down to half-size, each of Morton’s select­ed mon­u­ments is rep­re­sent­ed under wraps. Only their feet and parts of weight-bear­ing sculp­tur­al devices remain vis­i­ble under their sat­u­rat­ed, plas­tic-coloured, glazed shrouds.

For his pre­vi­ous exhi­bi­tion at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Evac­u­a­tions’ (2012), Mor­ton used the size, shape and colour of the most recent exhi­bi­tion there, of paint­ings, as the basis for his own new work. As a ges­ture toward the many func­tions of the pri­vate gallery, the works sug­gest­ed that each exhi­bi­tion was not sim­ply a new selec­tion of works in a known space, but instead, that each instal­la­tion cre­at­ed the space anew, afford­ing a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence with each view­ing encounter. In the cur­rent exhi­bi­tion, Mor­ton looks out­ward, around the neigh­bour­hood in the vicin­i­ty of the gallery. In the cen­tre of the sprawl­ing state cap­i­tal, the gallery’s neigh­bour­hood is the busi­ness dis­trict, a retail and com­mer­cial hub, a place of leisure, and a cen­tre of gov­ern­ment and admin­is­tra­tion. As such, it is also a his­tor­i­cal neigh­bour­hood, one whose pub­lic mon­u­ments tell those sto­ries that pre­vi­ous city author­i­ties wished to tell their con­stituen­cy about itself. These are sto­ries of pow­er: mil­i­tary and colo­nial, sci­en­tif­ic and cul­tur­al. But they are sel­dom remem­bered in detail and clar­i­ty. Instead, the mon­u­ments erect­ed to these great and/​or fal­li­ble his­toric fig­ures are often passed by unno­ticed, used today only as meet­ing points or lunchtime pews.

Morton’s work has con­sis­tent­ly addressed the archi­tec­ture of expe­ri­ence’, the moment of encounter between view­er and object, or view­er and built envi­ron­ment. The work has often tak­en the shape of oth­er art­works or designs, and replayed the view­ing expe­ri­ence in a way that trans­forms it into a skewed ver­sion of itself: con­sid­er the con­trast in scale and mood of Val­hal­la in Venice (2007); or the down-scaled Hotel (2008), dri­ven past at speed, on the East­link Free­way; or re-zon­ing of a uni­ver­si­ty muse­um into an impos­si­ble site of nos­tal­gic-futur­is­tic enter­tain­ment in Sil­ver­screen (2011); or the re-mate­ri­al­i­sa­tion of knowl­edge and how research’ is per­formed, sug­gest­ed by The Oth­er Side at the Bien­nale of Syd­ney (2014). Sit­u­at­ed on this par­tic­u­lar site, Neigh­bour­hood Watch’ also recalls Gas and Fuel (2002), Morton’s ani­mat­ed mod­el-like sculp­tur­al ren­der­ing of that epony­mous build­ing which stood heav­i­ly on the cur­rent site of the Nation­al Gallery of Victoria’s Ian Pot­ter Cen­tre, only one city block away, like the present mon­u­ments, a civic icon of equiv­o­cal mean­ing. Appre­ci­at­ed by a few, reviled by many, but for the most part, sim­ply ignored as part of dai­ly life in Melbourne’s ever-chang­ing urban landscape.

The works in this exhi­bi­tion have evolved from a col­lab­o­ra­tive pub­lic project, Mon­u­ment Park at Dock­lands, to be launched lat­er this year. In Neigh­bour­hood Watch’, Mor­ton brings the skewed encounter back into the gallery, in a mode that presents these works dis­tort­ed in size, not yet ready to be seen, in stor­age, or per­haps even cen­sored. In any of these cas­es, the hid­den mon­u­ment sud­den­ly becomes more vis­i­ble; curios­i­ty and antic­i­pa­tion are piqued; and the func­tion of the mon­u­ment – to memo­ri­alise, to be a reminder – is remembered…even if its sub­ject is not. Mor­ton reminds the view­er that the art­work, and par­tic­u­lar­ly the mon­u­ment, is nev­er entire­ly fin­ished. Any sto­ry told in pub­lic space will be re-told, by both con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous and future audi­ences. In this sense, Cal­lum Morton’s works in Neigh­bour­hood Watch also con­sti­tute pro­pos­als for the future.

Images

Cal­lum Morton

Neigh­bour­hood Watch, 2014
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery

Cal­lum Morton

Cov­er Up #13 (ML), 2014
Polyurethane, resin, water­borne enam­el, var­nish, syn­thet­ic poly­mer paint, wood
Sculp­ture: 91.59236.5 cm, plinth: 215174264 cm

Cal­lum Morton

Cov­er Up #14 (CC), 2014
polyurethane, resin, water­borne enam­el, var­nish, syn­thet­ic poly­mer paint, wood
sculp­ture: 582323 cm, plinth: 132.563.560.5 cm

Cal­lum Morton

Cov­er Up #15 (MF), 2014
polyurethane, resin, water­borne enam­el, var­nish, syn­thet­ic poly­mer paint, wood
sculp­ture: 916245 cm, plinth: 137112132 cm

Cal­lum Morton

Cov­er Up #16 (ALG), 2014
Sculp­ture: 373620, plinth: 78110142 cm

Cal­lum Morton

Cov­er Up #17 (BW), 2014
polyurethane, resin, water­borne enam­el, var­nish, syn­thet­ic poly­mer paint, wood
sculp­ture: 92.55543 cm, plinth: 215157.5141.5 cm