Luke Fowler


In conjunction with its Derek Jarman show, Kunsthalle Zürich is staging an exhibition of the work of British artist Luke Fowler (born in 1978, lives and works in Glasgow). Luke Fowler was the first winner of the inaugural Jarman Award in 2008, which is given to young film­makers who stand out for their delight in experimentation, innovative approach and excep­tional vision, and whose work challenges traditional boundaries and conventional definitions.

Luke Fowler is seen as a key figure on the Glasgow scene where he works as an artist film­maker and musician. He participates actively in the experimental music scene through his bands Rude Pravo and Lied Music, both of which use a combination of traditional and adapted or invented instruments. Fowler also runs the SHADAZZ multimedia platform whose activities include, inter alia, the production of LPs in collaboration with other musicians and artists.

Fowler challenges the classical conventions of documentary film in his film works. He sub­verts the structural syntax and collages found, apparently forgotten and own footage with photographs, diagrams and scripts to create a new kind of filmic mesh. In doing this some critics have suggested he aligns himself with the British Free Cinema movement, a documentary film movement that emerged in England in the 1950s, whose hallmark was the rejection of traditional narrative structure in film.

Past and forgotten histories, radical and experimental ideas, ideologies and their protago­nists are central to Fowler’s films. What You See Is Where You’re At (2001) focuses on the “Kingsley Hall Experiment” carried out by Scottish psychoanalyst and author R.D. Laing. The collaborative film, The Way Out (2003, with Kosten Koper), portrays Xentos “Fray” Bentos, a founding member of the band The Homosexuals, and explores Xentos’s multifac­eted character through formal play with contradictions and fragments. Bogman Palmjaguar (2007) tells the story of a man who turned his back on his fellow human beings and with­drew to nature following his diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic. Fowler succeeds in reflecting the content of his films in their formal structure. The recipient is inspired to re-examine his/her own relationship with the story. The works bear radical and energetic witness to the fact that film has the capacity to go beyond its boundaries both as an art form and as documentation.

The exhibition at the Kunsthalle Zürich unites for the first time a large selection of Luke Fowler’s filmic oeuvre in a single show. Along with a film made specially for the exhibition, i.e. An Abbeyview Film (2008), a poetic survey of life in a deprived housing estate in Dumfermine, Scotland, and a selection of still photographs, the films Bogman Palmjaguar, The Way Out and What You See Is Where You’re At will also be shown on alternate weeks over the course of the exhibition.

Kunsthalle Zürich thanks: Präsidialdepartement der Stadt Zürich, Luma Stiftung