"Morgan Fisher’s Melancholic Modernism," www.aperture.org

From his structural films in the 1960s through the 1980s to his monochrome paintings begun in the 1990s, Santa Monica–based artist Morgan Fisher has consistently and intelligently deconstructed the machinery of representation. For a new body of work on view at Maureen Paley in London and his first solo exhibition, titled “Past Present, Present Past,” the artist turns his attention to the dashed hopes of photography at mid-twentieth century. Twelve photographs document unopened boxes of rolls of film by European manufacturers from the 1950s, the decade in which he both grew up and became aware of photography and its history. Also using film, Fisher shot each unused box, with its bold color and graphics, against a gray background that simultaneously recalls the detachment of commercial photography and the cool aesthetics of Pop and Minimalist art. The repetition of subject matter and formal strategies shifts the viewer’s attention away from authorship to consider systems of production and technological obsolescence. The photographs, according to Fisher, “are examples of waste, things that have gone unused and are now useless, specific signs of what more generally we can call oblivion.”