Luther Price

selected works | exhibitions | texts | biography
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Luther Price
»Now and Forever«
12.09.–21.12.2013 | Preview 11.09.2013, 6–9 pm

It is with great pleasure that we announce »Now and Forever«, the first European solo exhibition by Boston-based artist and filmmaker Luther Price.

Over the past 30 years Price has created a body of consciousness-puncturing works, which made him an icon in the experimental cinema world long before his work was brought to a wider audience with last year’s Whitney Biennial in New York. Price became renowned in the 1980s and 90s for his emotionally stark Super 8 films which he released under the name Tom Rhoads. Rigorous in form, they were psychodramatic attempts to work through familial bonds, dark fantasies and notions of the self. In the past decade Price has opened up his strongly autobiographical work by using solely found footage. His recent 16mm films and handmade slides are appropriations from celluloid stock such as cinema trailers, home movies and archival material – affected by mold growth, scratching, and other techniques used by Price to radically transform the material of film. Rather than describing the artist's personal biography, these works become a living archival testament to their own process.

»Now and Forever« features both early and recent work. It opens with »Meat«, one of Price’s iconic Super 8 films dating back to 1999. Transferred onto digital, the work confronts the viewer with 55 minutes of fragmented dramaturgy and perturbing imagery. Turbulent and frenetic, the filmic collage of cut-apart and reassembled celluloid strips conveys the medical and clinical subjection of the human body. The fleeting images create a sort of neurological flickering, where subjective memory and tortured realities coalesce into one relentless sensation. With inexorable directness »Meat« draws a science-fictionesque scenario of what seems to become bearable merely through the artist’s eye of a travestied reality. The representation of viscera and disease are themes that have occupied Price through much of his career. Next to the video projection, a series of vellum prints extend onto the gallery walls; titled »Fibroids« (2005–2012) this work body depicts modified shapes of tumors taken from educational books. The seriality and overexposure of the cut-outs transform them into a grid that seems to suspend the subject's implicit horrifying nature while formally alluding to Price’s handmade slide projections.

Three of Price’s slide compositions are to be seen in the continuation of the exhibition: »Utopia« (2012–2013), a set of 240 slides projected as a triptych, entangles the viewer with a plethora of images that evolve around existential topics of violence and solace. Laced together from discarded feature film trailers, each one of these celluloid constructions becomes a concentrated representation of what Price aims to achieve with a full reel of film. The tormented human condition, clearly one of Price’s main inspirations, reappears in the single slide projection »Meat 2« (2012), homonymous to the Super 8 film that constitutes the preface of the exhibition. »Meat 2« presents a suite of densely layered slides that conjoin frames of a B movie with chunks of an educational film, as well as bits of tape gunk, dirt and other detritus. As captivating as his motion pictures, these entrancingly delicate, implicitly violent works address life, chance, and obsessive art making at equal extent.

»Light Fractures« (2013), which concludes the show, is Price’s most recent work and also the most abstract so far. The artist’s passion for emulsion is most apparent in this series of slides, which underwent treatments with salt, lemon juice and various other acids. Though no ink or paint involved, the images appear as if radioactive, with the obscured and obliterated material dissolving in front of the eye. Projected like paintings from atop of a pedestal, they possess a weight that defies the images' transparent nature. It is this omnipresent corporeality in Price’s work that obliterates categorizations of film and testifies a strong sculptural awareness of the space and the projected image within.

Luther Price (*1962, Marlboro, Massachusetts, USA) lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts and is a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Recent one- and two person exhibitions include Vilma Gold, London (with E'Wao Kagoshima); Callicoon Fine Arts, New York and Gallery Soto, Boston. His work was shown in various group exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Vilma Gold, London; and in numerous film screenings: 51st New York Film Festival, New York; 60th Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Oberhausen, Germany; LUX/ICA Biennial, London; Toronto International Film Festival; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, a.o. He is recipient of the James and Audrey Foster Prize, which has been hosted by ICA, Boston earlier this year. Upcoming events: Performance at MoMA PS1, New York (closing performance of 'Dirty Looks') October 2013; screening at transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin in February 2014; and a retrospective exhibition at Participant Inc., New York in March 2014.