Authors: Eric Fredericksen
Date Submitted: July 31, 2010
Article Type: Discourse


Inside a gleaming high-rise apartment building stands a charred and vacant ruin. Built of wood by the English artists Heather and Ivan Morison, this work is a slatted wall scaled to a gallery that barely contains it. The wall has a slight bend in the middle and leans forward into the space, supporting its weight in a position that should seem precarious, but does not, and suggests instability though firmly rooted to the ground. Or maybe it’s not falling. It’s waiting for a strong enough wind to catch it up, carry it off into the sky. Heather quotes from the science fiction writer Douglas Adams’ Life, the Universe, and Everything on this point: “There is an art, […] or, rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” (Adams, p. 75)

Heather and Ivan Morison make art through active engagement with materials, histories, sites, and processes. They have developed their practice through peripatetic travels that have taken them around England and to Siberia, Tasmania, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, and now Bellevue, Washington. Working less like tourists than traders, the Morisons return to their home (which has variously been in Birmingham, rural Wales, and as of this year, Brighton) to develop long-term projects informed by their investigations abroad.

In recent years, their interest in postapocalyptic science fiction and the catastrophic tenor of the times has inspired a series of works informed by research into primitive and countercultural dwellings. Let the title of one 2008 piece, How to Survive the Coming Bad Years, stand for this whole. This post-apocalyptic imaginary is only one strand in their practice, but it is an increasingly central one, underlying their research and work during their residency at Open Satellite.

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