Sarah Morris: Professional Trespasser | EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art

EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art

EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art is one of the biggest museums in Finland.

Sarah Morris: Professional Trespasser



Sarah Morris has characterised herself as a professional trespasser. She has gathered material for her films from, The Beijing Olympics, Rio Carnival, The Academy Awards and Bill Clinton’s office at the White House, for example. In the film Strange Magic (2014) the viewer is taken into renowned architect Frank Gehry’s office and a French luxury brand’s secret perfume factory. The fact that she is an artist helps the trespasser. “Art is a passport that is accepted everywhere,” Morris says.

Morris makes films and paintings side by side. Her films are collages of sorts where the original soundtrack has been replaced with electronic music. The paintings are divided into sizable murals, abstract fabrics and drawings marked by cool dynamic geometry, normally laid out on a cult movie poster.

The roots of Morris’s art lie in European modernism, brought into this age with today’s digital technology. The works, combining films and paintings, often suggest a particular city. Common starting points include local architecture and the impulses of other visual milieu, combined with the intruder-observer’s perceptions of the psychic essence of these cities. Morris describes herself as being interested in “urban, social and bureaucratic typologies.”

While Morris’s art lays claim to the modernistic history of architecture and visual arts, she critically examines the wrecking of modernism’s ideals and the consequences this has on society. Modernism gave us an abundance of good and beautiful, which Tapiola is an attest to in many ways, starting with the WeeGee house. But it also left us with a legacy of anonymous glass and steel architecture laden with the logos of global corporations – one that rules the sea landscape in Keilaniemi and Ruoholahti.

Timo Valjakka, Curator of the exhibition

Photos: Ari Karttunen / EMMA