Elizabeth Price: Sunlight
29 November 2014–14 February 2015
Opening: 28 November 2014, 18:30–20:30
Index presents SUNLIGHT, the first solo exhibition in Scandinavia by British artist and Turner-prize winner Elizabeth Price. The project will transform the gallery into a large-scale installation including a video installation.
The two-screen video work, titled SUNLIGHT, has been constructed using thousands of glass-plate slides picturing the sun. Created between 1875 and 1945, and taken on a daily basis during substantial parts of the period, these are some of the earliest scientific solar images and were discovered by the artist on a residency with Dr. Hugh Mortimer at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The slides were photographed in K-light, using so called Ca-K filters that isolate light of high temperature. The process allows us to see the effervescent surface of the sun that is otherwise too bright for human eyes. This method of early photography was used to explore the phenomenon of sunspots and their impact on magnetic technology until the mid-20th century.
During the video’s duration more than fifty years of sunlight are streamed as a continuous, evolving image of the sun. This rhythmic animation, which is shown on one of the screens, illuminates a narrative setting, which unfolds across the two projections with further images incorporating depictions of the sun. An animated ship travels across the screen, and a box of Ship-branded safety matches is presented. Matches appear both as burnt out, and occasionally in the process of burning. Hands, black and white, with strikingly yellow nail varnish clap triggering a rhythmical edit. A disembodied voice offers a more or less concise comment. The most prominent characters in this drama are images of women, in highly expressive poses that Price has taken from hosiery packaging. These women are shielding their eyes from the camera and the lights, which in the context of the film appear to be a response to the sun’s relentless glare.
Elizabeth Price’s video works incorporate digital photography, motion graphics, animation and sound and explore the formal, technical and intellectual qualities of digital visual media. In particular they exploit the possibility of combining different formal languages and cross formal genres and institutional contexts in the course of a single narrative. Each work by the artist features existing photographs, artefacts, documents and texts. These are re-photographed and digitally archived by Price over many months, then narratively composed with video editing software. Whilst moving image is the means of presentation, the provenance of the work does not lie in the history of experimental or artists’ film-making, but rather in the artistic conjunction of image and text found in conceptual art and the work of the so-called Pictures Generation, such as Louise Lawler or Richard Prince.
In SUNLIGHT, each image is intended to be a character or a prop in a drama. Every prop is used to establish, elaborate and accentuate the artificiality and violence of the sun within the unfolding narrative. Like the glass plates of the sun these props appear both in positive and in negative, while the soundtrack is played both forwards and backwards, and the colors of the work are limited to yellow or its chromatic opposite blue. Towards the end of SUNLIGHT, the photographs are animated in precisely the same rhythm as the sun, to create a broken, incongruous dance. The music is the same song that has been heard throughout the work, only transformed and reversed. Finally, the singer appears, she also dances in a bizarre and spectacular display with the hosiery models.
Elizabeth Price (born 1966 in Bradford, lives and works in London), was awarded the Turner Prize in 2012. Solo exhibitions and screenings of her work have been held at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2014), Julia Stoschek Foundation, Düsseldorf (2014-2015), Kunsthalle Winterthur (2014), Musée d’art Contemporain, Montréal (2013), Focal Point Gallery, Southend-On-Sea, (2013), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, (2013), Tate Britain, London (2012), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead (2012), Bloomberg SPACE, London (2012), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2011) and BFI Southbank (2008) among others. Price is also the winner of the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award (2013), the recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists (2012) and winner of the Jerwood Artists Platform Prize (2004). In 2007 she was awarded the Stanley Picker Fellowship at Kingston University. Elizabeth Price is also a founding member of the legendary Oxford-based indie pop band Talulah Gosh, formed in 1986. SUNLIGHT was created as a result of Elizabeth Price’s residency with Dr Hugh Mortimer, Space Scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and is supported by the Leverhulme Trust.
The exhibition is kindly supported by the British Council, UK and The Swedish Arts Grants Committee. With thanks to Peroni.