Monash University Toggle Search
Morton, Callum - 1995.46

Callum Morton

24 Hrs 1995
wood, canvas, steel, synthetic polymer paint, enamel
175 x 220 x 70 cm
Monash University Acquisition Art Prize 1995

24 Hrs is an early work in Callum Morton’s practice. It exemplifies many of the concerns, manoeuvres and tactics that have preoccupied him for more than two decades: the ambiguous relationships between high and low art, illusion and reality, and the model and the real; the uncanny sensation produced in the confusion between interior and exterior, and the public and private realms; and a melancholy interest in generic non-places and sad, dislocated forms.

Taking the form of a generic convenience-store awning, suspended or cantilevered from the wall, Morton’s sculptural installation projects into the gallery space, like an urban fragment prised from the streets, recontextualised. The awning’s signage is partly obscured by an unfinished paint job, suggesting a state of in betweenness or renovation, and its scale is somehow diminished, less than real, less than ideal.

At the time of its production, the work’s form might have recalled the unitary, serial, geometric forms that characterised the work of minimalist artists such as Donald Judd, albeit with a theatrical makeover. 24 Hrs is a minimalist object dressed up in pop-cultural garb, a slice of life set physically and metaphorically against the gallery wall to exact the return of that which might have been repressed from earlier modernist avant-garde traditions. With the benefit of hindsight, we can also see how 24 Hrs might be seen to prefigure ideas elaborated in Morton’s more recent Cover up series (2012–), in which classical sculptures are draped, so that their underlying function is denied ...

24 Hrs also relates to other works in the Monash University Collection, such as Morton’s large-scale digital print Farnshaven, Illinois 2001, from the series Local +/or General, which depicts classical examples of mid-twentieth-century modernist architecture refash­ioned as retail establishments and commercial franchises. In this case, the work depicts the iconic form of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (1951) ‘repurposed’ as a service sta­tion–cum–convenience store.

As a theatrical prop, emblazoned with a generic consumer logo, 24 Hrs also reiterates the idea of spectacle as the ruling economy of cultural production, underscored by the operations of capital. As an artefact – a suburban fragment displaced from its original context and recast within the contemplative space of the gallery – 24 Hrs might also be seen to emphasise the fugitive nature of everyday life, which can never be entirely apprehended within the institutional context of art.

Like his major public sculptures such as Hotel 2008, which sits forlornly beside the EastLink tollroad, and Silverscreen 2010, a drive-in cinema screen or billboard, which stands jammed between two buildings on the Monash University Caulfield campus, 24 Hrs is but one of many ‘sad, dislocated things’ in Morton’s oeuvre. It is one of many structures that are ‘strangely out of place’,[1] an urban, archaeological relic that places death, uselessness and redundancy up against the pristine surface of the gallery walls.

Max Delany is Artistic Director and CEO, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.

[1] Callum Morton, artist’s notes on the occasion of Silverscreen’s opening, Monash University Museum of Art, 2011.