Morris and Eminem: Place, Production and Promotion
Purdue University, Indiana, USA
The 2011 televised Super bowl half time included a General Motors commercial featuring the Chrysler with the tagline, “Imported from Detroit.” The invocation of the city, in particular the 1928 Fox Theater and a pop culture celebrity seems in stark contrast to Morris’ disdain of ‘fashion’ and self-promotion. In an attempt to denounce the superficial and fashionable, Morris, promoted honest labor as the source of not only aesthetic good but also moral and social good. The exultation of labor accompanied a renewed urgency related to the place of production. Similarly, the Chrysler commercial announces “When it comes to luxury, its as much about where’s its from as who its for.” What is the difference between place as formative versus contemporary uses of place as promotion? This paper investigates the shifting role of place from materials to marketing utilizing Morris’ philosophical imperative for the Arts and Crafts movement charted in his seminal lecture, ‘The Lesser Arts.’ I suggest that while the primacy of place remains a shared principle, for Morris ‘place’ promoted the natural pastoral setting against London, in contrast the Super Bowl commercial promotes the Chrysler 200 as a product of the city of Detroit. The distinction marks a philosophical contrast between place as organic and place as constructed. In both cases the location of labor determines the significance, one against London, and the other for Detroit. The commercial attests to the continued relevance and fusion of labor and architectural location evident in Morris’ principles. This presentation will begin with the commercial, offer an interpretation based on Morris’ text, and prompt the philosophical question of place as association with Nature and/or history and concludes with the question: Does the commercial reflect continued support for Arts and Crafts principles imported in 1906, in the tagline ‘imported from Detroit’, or a betrayal?