Following in his father’s footsteps, Callum Morton (Montreal, 1965, lives and works in Melbourne) first studied architecture and then moved on to the visual arts. Architecture plays a prominent role in Morton’s oeuvre, but is not the actual theme of his work. Morton first became known for his fabrication of two-dimensional plans of archetypical forms of modernist architecture, which he transforms into models, giving the buildings a completely new, banal function. For example, he changed (at least on paper) the Schröderhuis in Utrecht into a branch of Toys ‘R’ Us, made Casa Malaparte in Capri into a Spizzico fast-food restaurant and turned Farnsworth House in Illinois into a 7/11. For the 2005 Istanbul Biennale, he turned this process around, giving a ruined building the shop front of a Levi’s 501 store in his installation Stonewash, with a display window that featured the rubble that was there when Morton found the site. The focus of these works is not on the architecture, but on the levelling effect of processes of globalisation. The appearance of cities worldwide is becoming increasingly similar, as formal criteria are derived from architectural world heritage, with design gradually descending into banal common property and becoming completely interchangeable and devoid of its original significance.
In 2007, Morton achieved international acclaim at the Venice Biennale for his work Valhalla, a pavilion whose polystyrene outer walls appeared to have been devastated by a hail of bullets. The grey exterior, scorched black in parts, was in stark contrast with the immaculate marble interior, a hallway with three lifts, just a little smaller than actual size. The lifts appeared to be functional, and when the buttons were pressed, the unsuspecting visitor did indeed hear the sound of lifts descending. However, this familiar sound rapidly changed into a terrifying scenario, as the visitor was confronted with the screams of people in a plummeting lift. Exterior and interior combined here in an unexpected way.