Pilgrimage From Scattered Points
In our main space White Columns’ is proud to present the U.S. gallery debut of the Glasgow-based artist Luke Fowler’s celebrated work ‘Pilgrimage From Scattered Points’ (2005) – a 45 minute film about the English composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) and the Scratch Orchestra (1968 – 1973).
A mercurial figure in the British post-war avant-garde Cardew formed the Scratch Orchestra with Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton in 1968. Together they published their draft constitution in “The Musical Times” in June 1969 which set out the framework that would dominate the orchestra’s musical work for the first half of its existence. It proposed a fluid community where students, office workers, amateur musicians and some professional composers would gather together for performance, music making and edification.
The Scratch Orchestra’s concerts often consisted of: “Scratch Music” which relied on graphic or verbal instruction instead of traditional musical notation; “Popular Classics” where established works, mainly from the classical canon, were subverted; “Improvisation Rites” a communal starting point for semi-structured, and free improvisation; and “Research Projects,” travels which were undertaken in many dimensions, e.g. temporal, spatial, intellectual, spiritual and emotional. Rejecting the musical establishment, the Orchestra sought out new locations and audiences for their music. Concerts could take place in town halls, train stations, shopping centers and boating lakes, at weddings or remote village halls.
After two years this musical and social experiment became rigorously self-critical, with debates about the function of their art and whom it served. To manifest this criticism, meetings were held and a “discontent file” drawn up. This triggered a split in the Orchestra into two opposing camps. The first camp “the ID group” believed in the Maoist dictum that music should serve the struggle of the broad masses. The second, the “bourgeoisie idealists,” struggled for an autonomous art that primarily served formal, musical experiments and self-expression.
In ‘Pilgrimage From Scattered Points’ the internal contradictions and struggles of the Scratch Orchestra are related. Fowler’s film explores the internal contradictions and struggles of the Scratch Orchestra through first person interviews, recent and archival footage and predominantly unreleased music.
White Columns is grateful to Luke Fowler and everyone at The Modern Institute, Glasgow for their support with the New York presentation of ‘Pilgrimage From Scattered Points.’
Luke Fowler (b. 1978) lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2000 he received a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art (Printmaking) from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, Scotland. ‘Pilgrimage From Scattered Points’ was the subject of a solo presentation at The Modern Institute, Glasgow in February/March 2006. It was also shown as a part of curator Beatrix Ruf’s ‘Tate Triennial’ at Tate Britain, London (also 2006.) Fowler’s solo shows include: Supportico Lopez, Naples; TART, San Francisco; Cubitt, London; Casco Projects, Utrecht; and Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Group shows include ‘Becks Futures’, ICA, London (2005); Anti-Psychiatry Film Festival, Nova Cinema, Brussels (2004); and ‘Zenomap’, Venice Biennial, Venice, amongst others.