Raven Row’s Finest Films
Given that Morgan Fisher is from Los Angeles, the ‘entertainment capital of the world’, it’s no wonder he is completely obsessed with film. Most LA folk crave the limelight, the glamour of the silver screen and the glow of the red carpet. Not Morgan Fisher. Bar an accidental cameo in Standard Gauge the rest of the time Fisher stays the other side of the lens, offering the viewer his perspective through the camera or leading the viewer through his work via narration.
In the late 1960s Morgan Fisher began working with film, dabbling in the commercial industry on his LA doorstep where he seems to have amassed discarded reels and film strips. Don’t expect a polished blockbuster here – his work is a study of the production of movies, a fascinating insight into the intricate and overlooked process of editing. The first film I see, Standard Gauge, blends the history of 35mm into his own life experiences, piecing together slides he has collected particularly during his mainstream film career. Ironically, rejected slides that never made it to the final cut become the glue that links Fisher’s narrated anecdotes. He tells short stories, weaving together and contextualising abandoned slides into a semi-narrative, like a patchwork quilt of film reel.
Around the corner sits the ‘piece de la resistance’ of the exhibition, (). This is a collage of ‘inserts’, a device used in films to break away from the narrative, a pause from the main story to open a canned drink, watch sand pour throw an hourglass, check the time (which perhaps influenced Christian Marclay’s The Clock?). These short clips, destined to be distractions take centre stage, enforcing the power of the cut as powerful as the main narrative itself.
Upstairs a black room is illuminated by an installation of three-projector, a rotating kaleidoscope of colour like a venn-diagram on drugs, Color Balance (1980).
Rather than aligning himself with LA’s filmmakers, Fisher prefers to sit on the perimeters on Pop Art, inspired by his East Coast contemporaries and often citing Warhol as an influence. His paintings, architectural installations and photographs are dotted about but it is the moving image pieces that really take centre stage. The colour blocking and grids of his paintings are clean cut, but painting a pepsi case in a graphic style doesn’t seem a bit cliche and uninspiring. In the entrance, The Times Atlas of the World, provides welcome relief from the white interiors, the five colours of the five editions of the atlas painted in the panels like an abstract bookshelf.
The exhibition is spread over three floors in Raven Row’s Grade 1-listed surroundings, nestled in the nearly extinct winding alleys of the East End. Despite only opening in 2009, Raven Row has swiftly made its mark on the London art scene. Exquisitely renovated by the art world’s favourite architects 6a, it’s curator/creator Alex Sainsbury (yes, from the supermarket dynasty) has already put together an impressive programme of shows – definitely no signs of Jamie-’whack-it-in’-Oliver or the orangey glow of Sainsburys Basics here, just a healthy dose of interesting art.
Morgan Fisher: Films and Paintings and In Between and Nearby showing at Raven Row until 24 April