Luke Fowler: Bogman Palmjaguar
Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, RUN ENDED
In his new 30-minute film, titled after an eccentric subject who sees himself as being in symbolic union with the great cat, Glasgow filmmaker Luke Fowler manages to combine measured storytelling with a readjusted idea of documentary realism.
Bogman Palmjaguar is an elderly hermit living in the north of Scotland. In interviews with the artist, and psychiatrist Dr Leon Redler, he describes his decision to live like this following teenage trips to Scotland’s ‘Flow Country’. After years of such disengagement he visits his mother in a mental hospital – her breakdown caused by memories of incestuous sexual abuse – and the staff note that he is ‘essentially maladjusted to people’.
Fowler’s dreamlike style dips in and out of Palmjaguar’s recollections, merging them with fast-cut images of the damp, mist-shrouded countryside. Over these, occasionally, Palmjaguar speaks of the fauna and wildlife of his environment in a soft, encouraging voice which suggests a man deserving of the peace he craves, who can’t quite escape the officious agonies of civilisation. Yet, when we see him, he doesn’t look anyone in the eye and wears feathered masks as a matter of course, challenging our own reaction to his eccentricity. In Fowler’s art, documentary, reality and perception blur into an absorbing whole, which can be clearly understood, although never fully explained.