Scottish Luke Fowler is one of the most talked-about young British artists of recent years. His films are documentaries which at the same time express an experimental attitude to the film medium in a continuation of the avant-garde film tradition of the 1960s and 1970s.
Fowler’s films often portray historical cultural figures who operate on the extreme periphery of established society. The subject is usually a type of outsider figure with radical ambitions to challenge existing society. Pilgrimage from Scattered Points (2006), perhaps Fowler’s best known film portrait, deals with the British composer and activist Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). The film follows the development of the composer’s ground-breaking project the Scratch Orchestra as well as its total break¬down and final collapse. The Scratch Orchestra consisted of both professional musici¬ans and amateurs – anyone from students to farmers and office-workers could participate. The orchestra challenged all the established conventions, and distanced itself both from the use of traditional notation and from the concert hall as the arena of music, in favour of public places like railway stations or shopping centres.
The Scratch Orchestra was a social experiment that ended in a rupture where the members split into two different fractions. The film sheds light on that internal struggle, during which Cardew himself became a convinced Maoist. For Cardew music was a tool for studying man’s ability to cooperate and a way of investigating how we as a society can tolerate the unacceptable. Fowler’s portrait films also have a political motivation and show, through a close reading of historical figures, how alternative ways of thinking are possible.
Luke Fowler (b. 1978) lives and works in Glasgow. He has had solo exhibitions at among other venues the Serpentine Gallery (London), Kunsthalle Zürich, Extra City (Antwerp) and The Modern Institute (Glasgow). He has participated in a long succession of group exhibitions and film festivals all over the world.
The exhibition has been produced by Bergen Kunsthall in collaboration with Borealis.
The exhibition is part of the annual collaboration between Bergen Kunsthall and the Borealis festival. This year’s festival touches on “the Utopian” as one of its themes theme. Fowler’s exhibition documents just such an Utopian moment and how it constantly exists as a fragile experiment in danger of shattering in the clash with the structures of the greater society. Bergen Kunsthall and Borealis will follow up the exhibition with a further focus on Cornelius Cardew, with a special concert and a lecture by John Tilbury, pianist and author of the biography Cornelius Cardew: A Life Unfinished (2008).