morgan fisher
12 May 2011

Location: Smart Project Space, Auditorium Arie Biemondstraat 111, Amsterdam
Language: English
Entrance fee: Free with a valid Museum ticket
Reservations: Reservation is mandatory

Morgan Fisher is an American filmmaker, artist, writer, and teacher. He is well known for his unique avant-garde films that consistently push the definition of the genre itself. Fisher’s work has been described by writer and videomaker Jim Supanick as proceeding directly from the consequences of [its] immediate predecessors:

”Viewed as a whole, Fisher’s films are like a service entrance hidden behind the Hollywood sign, leading into corridors that take us past the film labs, sound stages, and utility closets of a vast movie empire. Viewed separately, they are sly and nuanced conundrums that introduce us to the unseen servants of an elaborate image-making process. Together, the films converse with and refer to one another in an intertextual cacophony worthy of Borges.” (Film Comment, 2005)

At this Talking Film evening, hosted by Smart Project Space in Amsterdam, Fisher’s latest 16mm film () (2003) will be screened in conjunction with two video works from the Stedelijk Museum’s collection and accompanied by a conversation between Fisher and Eric de Bruyn (University of Leiden). These works have been selected by the artist and the interviewer, and both complement and critically engage the works that will be shown at this event.

Talking Film @ TS2 – Morgan Fisher is made possible by Smart Project Space, Amsterdam. 


Eric de Bruyn teaches contemporary art and media theory at the University of Leiden. He is currently completing a book on filmic practices in post-minimalism called Film as Anomaly. Recent and forthcoming publications include "Constellations: On Josiah McElheny’s Island Universe,” in Josiah McElheny (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2009); “A Show of Hands: Richard Serra’s Films,” inKinematographische Räume. Filmische Ästhetik in Kunstinstallationen und inszenierter Fotografie (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, forthcoming); and “Being Then within aContext of Revolution: Six Notes on Two Films by Lawrence Weiner,” in Film Avantgarde Biopolitik (Vienna: Schlebrügge, 2009).

Morgan Fisher attended Harvard from 1960 to 1964, where he majored in art history, and the University of Southern California from 1964 to 1965. Fisher completed his academic career with film school at UCLA in 1966. His academic pursuits are unique compared with his peers, who as part of the fledgling avant-garde movement of the 1960s either avoided or despised the academy. It appears Fisher’s turn towards the arts was more out of a learned disrespect for the boundaries of the theoretical straightjacket of the academy. Fisher’s early films, The Director and His Actor Look at Footage Showing Preparations for an Unmade Film (1968) and Phi Phenomenon (1968), were shown at film festivals at St. Lawrence College and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. By 1974, Morgan Fisher created eight more films, and his reputation began to grow as a result of this intense period of creativity. Following these films, Morgan turned towards creating film installations for movies. These films includeSouthern Exposure (1977), North Light (1979), Passing Time (1979), and Color and Balance (1980). In 1984, Fisher finished production of his longest and most critically acclaimed film, Standard Gauge, which was shot in 16mm and was 35 minutes long.Standard Gauge is an autobiographical film that examines Fisher’s work as an editor in the film industry. The Whitney Museum of American Art hosted a large show in honor of Fisher's film works in 2005 entitled Standard Gauge: Film Works by Morgan Fisher.

Fisher expanded his artistic development during the end of the 1990 and began to include  painting, drawing, and spatial installations in his work. After a 19-year break, he returned to film and created the incredible 21-minute film ( ) (Parenthesis, 2003). The film received critical acclaim at the Rotterdam Film Festival and the 2004 Whitney Biennial. ( ) is quite different than his previous works, composed entirely using insert shots.

Fisher’s films include: ( ), (2003), Standard and Gauge (1984), Projection Instructions(1976), Cue Rolls (1974), Wilkinson Household Fire Alarm (1973), Picture and Sound Rushes (1973), Production Stills (1970), and Phi Phenomenon (1968). Fisher has also had numerous solo exhibitions, including: Standard Gauge: Film Works by Morgan Fisher at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2005), Edge and Corner Paintings at the Adamski Gallery for Contemporary Art (2005), The Films by Morgan Fisher at the Tate Modern (2005), To See Seeing at the Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2002), China Art Objects Galleries. (2002), Pacific Title and Art Studio at the China Art Objects Galleries (2002), Color Balance (reconstruction in 16mm of a film installation made in 1980) at the Galerie Daniel Buchholz (2002) and The Italian Paintings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2000).

(Biographical material excerpted from the website of The European Graduate School, Switzerland)