RES ARTIST: Morris Fox


Name: Morris Fox
From: Toronto, Ontario.
Studied at: Concordia in Montreal for Fine Arts.

VR: So this is your 2nd year participating in Ghost Hole. Last year you did a collaborative project with Brandon Dalmer, Cameron Stott, and Amanda Martin called “Gory Hole”. How was that experience?

MF: Last year was a giant sloppy mess! I mean, 16 gallons of fake blood, -1 degree weather and staying warm just by drinking…. it was awesome! (Laughs) The psychic surgery project was a lot of fun to do, but yea…. got covered in blood and cold… but it was fun to troop through it. I am really happy that this year Ghost Hole is mainly indoors…. and very dry… (laughs)

VR: This year you applied to the new residency aspect of the event with a project proposal to build a huge monolithic type of installation. Can you tell me a bit of what you’re creating in your studio?

MF: I’ve been inspired by classical mythology. I’ve recently worked on a series of paintings on the subject and during my research for that show I came across how the Delphic Oracles used to produce this room called a “psychomanteum” which was a dark room that would bring forth visions for the supplicants who came to hear the oracles’ prophecies. I really liked the idea of this black room, but it didn’t fit with my painting show, so when I saw the call for submissions for Ghost Hole IV, I thought it was perfect. This room was used by spiritualist, psychics and the occult, all of which I find really fascinating.

VR: Have you used a “psychomanteum” before?

MF: No, I never have.

VR: So this is kind of like an experiment?

MF: Yeah. Actually, I’m kinda terrified of the dark, or rather just being enclosed in dark spaces. It freaks me out. So yea, this is like an experiment to confront this fear.

VR: Did you have some sort of experience that brought this fear on?

MF: Yeah….. I probably shouldn’t say… but I had a bad experience with a babysitter when I was really young. She shut me up in my room one night when I was refusing to go to bed. She shut all the lights off and locked me in my room and wouldn’t let me out. At the time I had a huge irrational fear of the dark, so it was probably one of the scariest situations of my childhood… banging on the door and screaming “Let me out let me out!”

VR: Oh my god…. how long did she keep you in there?

MF: For a while, but then she let me out, mainly because I think she was worried she would get in trouble because I was freaking out so bad. Then you know, sleepovers when you’re a kid… and friends playing tricks on me in the dark… like Bloody Mary. But my piece isn’t really about cheap tricks. It’s meant to be more of a psychological experiment of the mind. They say people who worked in coal mines used to experience the same hallucinations or visions by being in the dark for so long. It was also used as an interrogation technique… they would keep prisoners shut up in the dark for long periods of time. But this piece wont be oppressive, more relaxed. I really want to create a place in Ghost Hole for people to come and chill out. There’s going to be a lot of visually stimulating pieces at Ghost Hole so I wanted my piece to be a break from that… but at the same time create this other type of intense experience.

VR: So this year you’ve been working with Matt Tanner in your space. Is this a collaboration?

MF:
 I’d say it’s more of a complimentary project. We’ve been helping each other out, mainly with hauling all the lumber here to the island. Matt is doing a piece outside of my piece using light, shadow and visual tricks. He’s doing a project about memory lapse. So sharing the space with him has been great and I think both the pieces really fit well together.

VR:
 So in you’re studio there’s a theme of dark and light.

MF: Yes, and of memory, shadows and hallucinations too.

VR: So, in terms of the “experiment” are you prepared for something freaky to happen?

MF: I’m prepared for something to happen, yea. You know this building… it IS spooky. I haven’t experienced anything personally… yet… at least since staying here since last week… but just little things like the creaking of doors… all the history… it sets you up to get spooked out. Before the event I’m going to attempt to stay in the the room for as long as I can and document it. I want to see how long I can last and if I experience anything.

VR: So there’s a personal performance aspect to your piece?

MF: Definitely. Also this year for the event I’m going to dress up like a coal-miner. You know, like the trapped miner in the dark.

VR: The coal-miner in effect.

MF: (laughs) Yeah!

VR: Cool, that’s interesting that you’re doing this personal experiment/test before the event. Because you know what they say about artworks, sometimes it’s not so much about the actualy piece but the feeling of the artist’s time with that piece. Almost like the artist haunts the work.

MF: Yeah, I really like that. I like it when you can tell when an artists has really inhabited their work.

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