New Utopia and Light Fracture
Author/Editor: Luther Price
Luther Price’s New Utopia and Light Fracture, published by the Visual Studies Workshop’s VSW Press/Film Art Book imprint, features images taken from artist Luther Price’s handmade 35mm slides with excerpts from texts and emails sent by the artist to Tate Shaw, editor of VSW Press, in 2017 and 2018. The book includes an introduction by curator Ed Halter (Light Industry) who was a close friend of Price, and an afterword by Shaw.
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 1980s, 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 and Light Fracture by Luther Price.
New Utopia and Light Fracture includes images derived from the depths of Price’s 35mm slide collages, representing some of the most accomplished work of the artists’ career. The sparse text in the book comes solely from Price’s messages to Shaw over a two year period.