Currently on view at Capitain Petzel, Berlin is the second solo exhibition of New York-based artist Sarah Morris, titled after the film noir classic, Cloak and Dagger, directed by Fritz Lang. The exhibition points towards the fictional, internal and external architectural landscape inhabited by Lang. For the show the artist realizes a large site-specific wall painting, Elixir, and a series of new paintings and drawings. Morris´ film, Finite and Infinite Games, as well as a new film, Mimosa Tank: A Prologue for a Film, will also be on view.
Finite and Infinite Games, which Morris completed earlier this year, casts German theorist, writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge in a philosophical conflict and is juxtaposed to the empty and not yet opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg. Morris sees this space as a void. She used the concert hall in juxtaposition with a reading and dialogue between Alexander Kluge and herself on James P. Carse’s book, Finite and Infinite Games, published in 1986. The seminal text lays out two opposing world-views of structuring activity, politics, thinking, navigation, strategy and creativity. Morris asks Kluge to speak of his beginnings as the Frankfurt School’s lawyer, later working for Fritz Lang and eventually becoming one of the main figures of New German Cinema. Carse’s game theory becomes a focal point and encompasses all sociological and individual movements, whether aesthetic or otherwise, and questions the role of the artist in this scenario. The relations between the freedoms of infinite possibilities versus the rule-based operations of finite game playing are at the centre of a dichotomy laid out by Morris and Kluge.
As a result of their dialogue and friendship, Morris and Kluge decided to collaborate on Mimosa Tank: A Prologue for a Film. This film began with Morris´ interest in Fritz Lang´s story told in Beverly Hills in 1964 in regards to his invitation by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels to become the head of German film studio UFA; Lang´s possible co-optation and ultimately his refusal. This story of a false start and navigation both globally and political, is akin to Theodor W. Adorno sending Kluge to Lang in the first place in order to deter Kluge´s interest in film.
For Morris painting and film-making are two sides of the same coin and equally important to her practice. Through each medium she creates a new place for politics, creating visions of play, possibility and intrigue. Executed in household gloss paint on square canvases, Morris’s paintings, redolent with algorithmic grids, capture the essence of the moment. Within this framework, conspiracies, QR codes, visual sound diagrams, film posters or pharmaceutical packaging are fair game.