BY Izi Glover in Reviews | 11 NOV 01
Featured in
Issue 63

Magali Fowler

Mobile Home, London, UK

BY Izi Glover in Reviews | 11 NOV 01

Upon arrival at the gallery you were greeted by a photograph of a slightly dated aeroplane interior, clearly the bland décor of a commercial airline, with off-white windows and blinds, beige seats and an innocuous wall pattern. Although the plane was empty, it was obviously not waiting for passengers as its seats were covered with clear plastic. Not a Sound (all works 2001) is loaded with possibilities - journeys to be made, farewells to be endured and destinations to be anticipated - but the plastic wrapping indicated a hiatus from its predicted destiny.

This portentous image formed the motif for the show. Based on three scripts, these new photographs by Magali Fowler allude to narratives, the twists and turns of which you could only guess at, for the scripts are unavailable. Presented without the trappings of their storylines, the protagonists are glimpsed upon a journey framed by rural landscapes. Time is indicated by various seasons, beginning with an image of a new annual cycle entitled Outside. A crisp photograph of springtime was hung over the mantelpiece in the main gallery space. White blossoms are pinned to skeletal twigs, branches reach out to the blue empyrean beyond and green leaves are propelled forth by the rising sap.

Fowler's disjointed evocation of silent film stills was developed with the inclusion of some images of archetypal summer hi-jinxes. Arranged in a grid of four photographs, the action shifts from a pick-up truck speeding along a dusty valley track in The Pick-Up, to a blur of a man swinging his way along the underside of a bridge over a coursing river in Bittersweet Falls Road. Below these two images It Just Happened presents a youth manoeuvring his motorbike within an overgrown fenced compound, while alongside in The Road Before A. L.'s House. The Next Evening a woman stands by a car. Absorbed in reading a map, she adds a note of reflection to the surrounding moments of action.

Instants more meditative than active are depicted in another set of four photographs. A sense of autumn waiting in the wings inflects both an image of a hedged fruit patch, The Hedge Next to B. D.'s House. The Next Morning, and the adjacent image, Forgetting His Quarrels, which depicts a young man in a field studded with purple flowers lit by a low sun. The season is well under way in the study below, When?, of another young man who crouches down to read a letter amid drifts of fallen leaves. A field of hay bales provides the setting in the final image, WHOA!, in which a girl incongruously holds a T-shirt aloft. Although the backdrop of the seasons provides some semblance of structure, the unrelated events are at several removes from the viewer.

With the story-lines thus abandoned, viewers are left to enjoy the moments along the way for what they are, rather than rushing headlong to a denouement. As the saying goes, it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive.