Sunday, 19 February 2012

Luke Fowler (with Toshiya Tsunoda and John Haynes)


Inverleith House, Edinburgh
12 February – 29 April 2012
“We are actors in a play...whose plot we don't know...and whose end I 
dare not imagine.” These words delivered by iconoclastic Glasgow-born 
'anti-psychiatrist' R.D. Laing not only form the opening gambit of 'All 
Our Divided Selves', Luke Fowler's latest feature length video that 
cuts up rarely seen archive film of Laing with new footage. As 
soundtracked by Alasdair Roberts, such grandiose epithets also go some 
way to summing up the entirety of this at times demandingly 
overwhelming but most deeply personal of Fowler's collections to date.

The ninety-three minute film is the (un)holy grail at the end of a show 
which begins with 'Ridges on a Horizontal Plane', an installation made 
in collaboration with sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda, who also fills a 
room with his own sonic sculpture, 'Composition for Maguchi Bay.' At 
all points inbetween, the walls are lined with a series of split-screen 
colour photographs that juxtapose elements of Fowler's world's eye view 
at work, rest and play. It's a world of book-shelves, parties, 
performances and protest, a place where the old counter-culture is 
picked up, absorbed and, to use a Laingian word, rebirthed, for modern 
times.

If Fowler seems to be mapping out facets of his own life via such 
dualities, it's Laing who dominates, be it splitting focus and 
personalities on film in a manner both infuriating and compelling, or 
else in the accompanying basement display of portraits by theatre 
photographer John Haynes. In both Laing is by turns self-consciously 
beatific, demonic, shamanic, flower-shirted, polo-necked, bare-footed, 
cross-legged , bombastic or else a little fragile. On film, in his 
fabulously grainy study of Glasgow for the 'Cities' series of 
psycho-geographic documentaries, Laing stands in a bombed-out slum, 
fires burning behind him as he posits expectations of his own past he 
should never have lived up to. “Culture?” he says scornfully, crazy 
talking to the end. 
The List, February 2012

ends

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