Maid´s Medium
Preview OCT. 23. 2015 / 7-9pm.

For the exhibition at Prosjektrom Normanns Morell worked module based, painting panels at his studio prior to mounting them as a grid on the walls of the project space. He also collected some silhouettes from his ongoing series Shadow Canvas (2012 - ). The silhouettes can represent rearranged still life, hung from the ceiling in ropes and chains, giving a reference to the upside-down stunt by illusionist and performer Houdini, noted for his sensational escape acts. The shapes of the silhouettes are composed by objects and apparatus used to seduce the audience during the grand era for illusionists, dating back to the early 1900s. Rather than being soft shadows on subdued canvas, Morell presented the silhouettes as black, solid contours, their shadows being cast upon the walls.

The installation is a fragment of interiors, or a stage of requisites. A touch of art deco flirts with hard edge painting. The monumental painting and the repeating grid pattern impose a meditative feel. The combination of a subtle backdrop and the more narrative sculptures, create a sort of vacuum at the same time as they actively interact and the audience wanders in-between. 

But, there is something creaking. Could it be that some of the sources of inspiration affected the process?

Visually and thematically the project is a dive through the era of entertainment, from the time when clairvoyants and jesters wore their top hats whilst performing from a stage rather than on a street corner. Myths were about to be busted, the occult unmasked. Morell’s project at Prosjektrom Normanns consists of a rather complex and correlated material, full of anecdotes and fragments from a variety of sources. There is a conspicuous lack of obvious narrative, which in turn opens for a more personal composition of elements. 

Morell is fascinated by the Lumiere brothers’ very first double exposure; by the fact that Robert Houdini began his professional career as a watchmaker; by the myth behind the help Leonora Piper received from her servant, and the scientific efforts and trials to disprove and unveil these seductive cheats. Without doubt, there is sincerity, as well as a touch of melancholy, to Morell’s take on the contemporary art scene through presenting and comparing it to the time when magic was real. Back then, as now, there is an ongoing debate figuring who actually has the ability, or who did come out first with an idea or invention.  Spying eyes stare into each others’ workshops and studios.

The title, Maid’s Medium, is inspired by Leonora Piper, who held séances with William James (American Doctor, Psychologist and Philosopher) impressing him with some of the details he was given. However, it is said that a maid in the household of William James was friendly with a maid in Piper's house and that this may have been a channel of information that Piper used to obtain private details about James.

The chains used for the installation of the silhouettes represent the proverb “a chain is no stronger than its weakest link”, referring to the very fact that the mystique and true abilities of Piper were unveiled when James discovered Piper’s true source of information.

There are no pre-drawn conclusions or blueprints for Morell’s project. You have to come and take a look. The artist can’t promise you anything.

Lars Morell (Born 1980, Kristiansand) studied at National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo (2001-05). Recent exhibitions include Palais De Tokyo, Paris; Muhka Antwerpen, Foundation D´ enterprise Ricard, Paris; Jeu De Paume, Paris; Galerie Wentrup, Berlin; Choi & Lager, Køln; Cinnamon, Rotterdam and Kristiansnd Kunsthall, Kristiansand. He has received grants and awards from Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Deutche Börse Residency Program, amongst other, and is represented in several private and public collections.

Photos: Jan Inge Haga