Mia Morris is a Berlinerin. Born and raised in this city, she’s been around through all of the seminal events that have made this place what it is….ok maybe not all but a good few. She grew up in West Berlin and ran out onto the street when the ground rumbled so that she could see the British and American tanks grinding past along the main street. She sat in the back of the car of her parents while East German guards ran a mirror on a stick around the underneath of her car every time the family drove to the west. She was not yet a teenager when the news came through one night that the wall in the middle of town that had always been there had come down and that people were pouring through what were once untraversable checkpoints. And she grew up into the crazy nineties when Berlin redefined and refound itself, when the city lay the foundations of the place it is today. It was into this hectic, ever-changing and ever-challenging world that Mia Morris the artist was born, and it was this city that defined her too.
Mia Morris’s first art project that saw the light of day was what became the funkyrotic project. Heavily underpinned by the eroticism that she sees everywhere in everyday life and drawing from the nineties fashion magazine aesthetic, Mia photographed herself and others and then engaged on heavy bouts of photo manipulation, printing the photos onto large sheets of paper, reworking them with paints and whatever she found to hand, repeatedly rescanning and reprinting them and doing whatever she could think of to bend the original images to the vision she held in her head.
The funkyrotic art project surfaced with an exhibition – „Mi a mor’ is funkyrotic“ – which she put on in a bordello that occasionally doubled as an exhibition space in a seedy part of Berlin. So that the figures in her pictures, erotic portraits – and often self-portraits – in their repainted and altered states and blown up onto metre-high canvases, ended up gazing down from bedroom walls onto whatever scenes were played out in the rooms of the place.
It was somehow typical of Mia Morris – challenging, eroticising, questioning, never taking the easy or expected path.
Were there other reasons for her showing her work in a bordello? Mia Morris also expresses frustration at the conventional art business in Berlin and elsewhere, and the philosophy that stands behind a gallery system that plans its shows often two years in advance and acts as gatekeepers for what is and isn’t art.
The next thing that fascinated Mia, perhaps unsurprisingly with her leaning towards the erotic, was the burgeoning Berlin burlesque scene. She became a regular feature at burlesque shows such as the Sunday Soiree, Fish ‘n’ Whips and Pinky’s Peepshow, shooting hundreds of images, capturing these – mostly – ladies who embodied the recapturing of their own eroticism from the mainstream ideal of unrealistic, starved girlish bodies squeezed into whatever the mainstream fashion world decided was going to sell big that year. A range of her burlesque photography appeared in the Neue Kammerspiele in Kleinmachnow on the south-western edge of the city in the „Burlesque ‘n’ Club“ exhibition.
Through this time Mia also kept to her penchant for showing her work in unnusual places, with long-term exhibitions at John’s ARTiger Friseursalon in Prenzlauerberg and the „Holz-Atelier von Osten“ in Friedrichshain.
What has perhaps also somewhat dictated the direction in which Mia’s work has developed is her other project, indieberlin. Through indieberlin she moved into the world of concert photography and has ended up snapping hundreds of photos at both the smaller and bigger venues in town, capturing seminal images of bands such as Savages, The / Das, Travis, Sohn, Red Ink, Kitty Solaris, Yasmin Gate and Bunny Suit, among many others.
Watch a selection of Mia Morris’ pictures here:
Pictures: Mia Morris // Soundtrack via freemusicarchive.org under creative commons, Music title “Prom Theme” by The Womb