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Eve Fowler’s works at Morȧn Morȧn are spare, and highly textual. No image presents in the six wall works or the single, looping video in the center of the gallery’s first room. The wall pieces feature monochromatic backgrounds painted evenly on aluminum, narrowly ranging in color from black to medium blue. The enigmatic text that runs along the bottom of each panel contains a literary quote that may sound familiar to any keen reader of the Modernists: pearls that were his eyes, say, or wholly body, fluttering its empty sleeves.
Fowler’s video, These Sounds Fall Into My Mind (all works 2019), closely resembles the panels. Again, monochromatic background colors shift, each with new lines of text expanding on Fowler’s literary sources with her own narrative observations, all recited by an accompanying voiceover. Fowler’s text combines mundane observations, personal recollection, lines borrowed from Eliot, Woolf, and others, and promises not to rewrite these referenced texts. Fowler’s refusals are methodical, and particular—a long cycle of repeated “I won’ts…” precede each line of referenced text (e.g., “I won’t write about how,” the voice says, before quoting Woolf, “the lake of my mind…heaves placidly”). The resultant effect is of a bare animation of the creative mind, grappling with the anxiety of influence.
In the gallery’s second room, Fowler’s with it which it as it if it is to be, Part II, a half-hour long film, shows a series of scenes of late-career women artists, mostly working in their studios. Repetitively structured text from Gertrude Stein’s Many Many Women is read over the film, just undercutting the otherwise sleepily forthright, documentarian style. In one section, the camera hovers languidly along a series of heady, theoretical titles, outlining the textual references that drive this work. The work itself, often shown in process, jockeys with the artists themselves for the film’s attention.
Text in an art gallery, or even museum, context can run up against a fatiguing, durational limit for a viewer rather quickly, flattening the sensual encounter that art promises. The space between what text(s) might mean for an artist, and how that meaning is transformed into purposeful work is the curious territory inhabited by Fowler here. That reading and viewing require different modes of interaction doesn’t seem lost on her, yet strangely, the show avoids a discreet encounter with any specific, physical art object. These Sounds Fall Into My Mind ultimately circles the subjective ground of creativity—something a physical work of art might point to, but never fully reveal.
Eve Fowler: These Sounds Fall Into My Mind runs September 7–October 5, 2019 at Morȧn Morȧn (937 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069).