British artist Sarah Morris makes films and paintings about cities. With her lens, she negotiates access into areas most of us can't (Beijing's Olympic venues before the games, the red carpet in Los Angeles, the White House when Bill Clinton was in residency) and records life via subtle camera angles and snippy editing. Inspired by her findings, she creates colourful, abstract canvases in household paint of each city in parallel.
Her latest body of work, entitled Bye Bye Brazil, is on show at the White Cube gallery in Bermondsey. Carnival, modernist architecture, beaches and Brahma beer are the subjects of her 11th film 'Rio'. Familiar subjects all, but Morris' quirky detailing and the jarringly hypnotic soundtrack by fellow artist Liam Gillick, give them a fresh spin.
Morris interviewed Niemeyer at his office before he died. There's a shot of his wheelchair in the hallway, and though we see him speak, his words are drowned out by the music. His architecture, and the way people operate within it form the backbone to the film. There's a painter touching up the ceiling of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi, and the ebullient 'Winner's Parade' in his Sambadrome carnival stadium. It's long for an art film (88 minutes) and Morris spent many months in Rio exploring the psychology of the mega city.
Niemeyer's geometric and architectural lines are also present in the canvases. Morris calls them 'diagrams' and cites Bossa Nova album covers, Roberto Burle Marx and Lina Bo Bardi as additional inspirations.
The public spaces in Bye Bye Brazil may still only be known by relatively few, but with Brazil firmly on the radar for the Olympics and the World Cup next year, they will soon be familiar to every household. And with a new White Cube up and running in Sao Paulo, Morris' current body of work is a neat tie-in. Although the exhibition won't be shown in Sao Paulo, the film will be screened in Rio on 3 September to coincide with Art Rio 13.