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Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture

Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture

Saturday March 16, 2024, 1:00 pm

At 2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90057

 In person: Tara Merenda Nelson, Curator and Director of Public Programs, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester NY

Although we’re not going to stop any kids from entering, it is a show that probably is for adults only.

In celebration of Visual Studies Workshop’s publication of Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture, Filmforum is delighted to welcome VSW’s Tara Merenda Nelson to present the slide work of Luther Price.

Luther Price. One of the weirdest, most wonderful, most fascinating, most unique filmmakers (and humans) ever to live. As an artist, Price would just go for it—dive deep into his weirdness, his queerness, his obsessiveness—and grind out these insanely freaked out, beautiful, violent films in which themes of personal/family life, sexuality, mortality and bodily experience screamed out like mutant screaming monstrosities, as if he were ripping bandages off of gnarly wounds. His films swirl in never-ending maelstroms of repetition and perpetuity and are the most intense, beautiful/ugly, most harrowingly cathartic experiences ever to be had: insanely weird, funny, frightening, baffling, overwhelming… (Steve Polta: Remembering Luther Price) 

Luther Price (1962–2020) was a filmmaker known for deeply personal and aggressively visceral film work. His early Super-8 films (some made as pre-Luther identity Tom Rhoads), including Jellyfish Sandwich, Sodom, Green and Warm Broth, enacted primal domestic psychodramas and/or probed the psychosexual extremes of physical experience while later 16mm found footage and hand-painted film work was equally overwhelming in its obsessive physicality. In the last decade of his life, Price created breathtaking collages on 35mm slides, combining the techniques he had mastered in his film works to culminate in single frame compositions—“rotted slides, slides of hair and dust, slides of dead ants, slides made from old strips of film, slides filled with colored sugar*” 

Virtually unseen locally, Price’s stunning work with slides is documented in Visual Studies Workshop’s Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture, a 2023 publication featuring copious images derived from the depths of Price’s 35mm collages as well as intimate email correspondence from Price to VSW editor Tate Shaw 2017–18 and an essay by Ed Halter of Light Industry, Brooklyn. In celebration of this publication, Filmforum is thrilled to present two sets of Price’s double-projected slides—New Utopia and Light Fracture (both 2017) and to welcome Visual Studies Workshop’s Tara Merenda Nelson to speak on the publication, the slides and on Price. Two Super-8 films by Price will also screen.

* quotation from Ed Halter: “Yesterday Once More”, published in Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture.

Special thanks to Steve Polta, SF Cinematheque

Masks are highly recommended at Filmforum shows - N95 or KN95.

Luther Price (January 26, 1962 – June 13, 2020) was a prodigious artist whose work unearthed the deepest, darkest corners of the human experience. Working in film, sculpture, and performance, his haunting portrayals are often manifestations of personas drawn from lived traumas, thickly layered with paint, glitter, glue, and bodily fluids. Price’s films are sculptural compositions in which images of eviscerated bodies, raw meat, hardcore gay porn, and laughing clowns occupy the same psychic space as quiet scenes of street corners, blue skies and empty clotheslines. Born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, Price attended the Massachusetts College of Art in the early 1980’s, where he studied sculpture and performance before turning to Super 8 film after being shot in Nicaragua in 1985. With the support of Super 8 filmmaker Saul Levine, his teacher at MassArt, Price pushed the boundaries of the “home movie” medium, stepping into each role of the fractured family to conjure complicated apparitions on the scratched surface of the film. His practice evolved to include found footage and “handmade film” techniques, incorporating ink, dirt, spit, splices and the process of decay into the production. Price’s work with 16mm found footage is some of the most sophisticated in the tradition, with more than 80 original titles created in the course of his career. In the last decade of his life, Price created breathtaking collages on 35mm slides, combining the techniques he had mastered in his film works to culminate in single frame compositions. A selection of these slides can be seen in New Utopia, Light Fracture by Luther Price.

Tara Merenda Nelson, Visual Studies Workshop Curator and Associate Editor for the VSW Press/Film Art Book, is a filmmaker, curator, programmer and lecturer working with film and digital media. At VSW Tara oversees the cataloging, preservation and interpretation of the VSW collections, and is the programmer for the VSW Salon and Workshop Series. She is also the assistant editor of VSW Press’s Film Artist Book (FAB) imprint. Prior to VSW, Tara worked as an intern at the Harvard Film Archive and WGBH’s Antiques Roadshow, and lectured at Ithaca College, University of Rochester and Cornell. Tara has an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2011).