A film by Sarah Morris (c) 2008
Morris's film, Beijing, focuses on one of the most intricate and ambiguous international broadcasted events of past years – the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Beijing observes the overwhelmingly perplexing and contradictory economy and authority of China, made all the more resonant in current climate of global crisis.
The Olympics – with their sense of historical urgency and unconditional trust in the future and nationalism– embody a system that marks the modern confluence of capitalism and mass media by means of an unprecedented mastery of technology, the mass migration of people, and a hyper-mediated event culture. In Beijing, Morris plays with the notion of duality, coupling it with the constant presence of the spectacle or the event and its constant multiple interpretations.
Morris’s film is a surreal portrait of an authoritarian state of turbo-capitalism, during a period when the International Olympic Committee effectively took over sovereignty of the capital. Beijing depicts a hitherto closed country at a moment of apparent and possible theatrical openness, a hidden culture at a moment of extreme visibility Consequently – and this is perhaps why we are made to think of conspiracies – the film questions the authorship of the spectacle, who is in control, and ultimately, the role of the artist.