35 minutes:44 seconds
The Farnsworth House, Plano, Illinois and the Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut. Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe. Curator and architect. Architect and architect. “Points on a Line” directed by artist Sarah Morris, documents a shared desire to build structures that might change the way we think about a house, a form and a context. These two buildings were the result of shared ideas and collective desire. But they also complicate ideas of the copy and the original and the chronologies of Modernism.
The two buildings demonstrate a legacy of focus upon detail and surface – inside and outside. Capturing the tension of ego and authorship in precisely differering architectural statements. By carefully documenting the daily maintenance of these two buildings and lingering over the precise placement of the structures in space and of objects within each structure we are presented with a clear view of places that have gone beyond their initial modest use and become the intersection of a dialogue that was both personal and professional.
Morris's deployment of cinematic codes in relation to architectural precision produces images that go beyond a record of functionality or the streamlining of needs. These are places that remain elusive despite their openness – structures that are open vessels where we search for markers of the corporate aesthetic to come and the legal wrangles that marked the struggle to complete and maintain them. Buildings that require constant representation and new documentation in order to recode and understand what came before and what came next. Obtaining complete unrestricted access for each location of the film, Morris has woven together art, architecture and corporate image production with flowers, the behavior of bees and the patterns of butterflies - window washing, cooking, power-broking and collecting.
Morris filmed at both sites over the course of several months, among other locations including The Four Seasons Restaurants, the Seagram Building, Mies van der Rohe’s infamous Lake Shore Drive, and Chicago’s Newberry Library. Morris utilizes The Four Seasons, a place that Philip Johnson practically used as his personal office, as the meeting point between the two architects. The restaurant remains a site of projection and desire – active as a site of negotiation and display. Morris’s film is both a record of preservation of two structures and a document of power plays that left a mark in the pragmatic idealism of the late modern period. The soundtrack, composed by the artist Liam Gillick, lends an atmospheric progression to the film.
Sarah Morris, Points on a Line, Film Stills, 2010
© Sarah Morris