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Luther Price


Tortured flesh, tortured film. Luther Price’s films drink from the author’s own (and tragic) personal and family history like an ongoing process of purging and healing. A process that has been debugged over the years, and which gives as result movies away from complacency, brutal honesty exercises, almost physically disturbing, raw, skinless and beautiful, which provoke a confused bunch of emotions in the viewer. Death, family, surgical operations, sex and violence are some of the ingredients with which he manufactures his films, on whose surface the physical trace of his work is visible, both because of the material quality of the film itself and its characteristic editing patterns. Luther Price (this name is a pseudonym: the most enduring of the author after having taken various names and artistic personalities like Tom Rhoads or Brick) is a native of Massachusetts, where he lives and works. He began as a sculptor and later became a filmmaker. He started to make performances and films in super 8 in the 80’s, when he faced the autobiography directly. By the 90’s he started working on 16mm, exclusively with found footage, addressing the same issues but without direct references to his own life. These two programs are a sample that ranges from those first films in super 8 to the most recent ones, including also films from several of his series: Inkblots (films whose emulsion has been abraded in some way, and then repainted), Ribbons (films of 16mm in which he puts strips of super 8), Garden Films (films that have been buried and subjected to the elements and their wear) and Biscuits (series of films made from a unique source, based on pattern and repetition).

Acknowledgments: Luther Price, Ed Halter

Program 1

Red Rooster
1987, super 8, 4 min.

“I had so much fun making this short super 8 found footage film… It was the beginning of my transition from sculpture to film and my love for found footage. Finally, life wasn’t a drag… No more tears, no more sorrow, let’s look forward to tomorrow…” (Luther Price)

1989, super 8, 15 min.

“My first Luther Price film. I had just made my transition from Tom Rhoads and Tom Rhoads would never have made this film… He liked ice cream, mommy + dreams. But Luther Price was ready to dig in… and be raunchy… Little did I know back then that a whole new me was just beginning… During the mid 80’s it was quite difficult to be out… So much finger pointing and hatred… So I knew it was time to do something about it.” (L.P.)

Meat Dry 02
1999, super 8, 10 min.

“With this one, from the original Meat, 1990-1992 60 min silent Super 8 —meant to have just white noise— the thing is, it was so layered w/ tape that I could not get a contact print. Very depressing -frankenstein monster… but sitting at the Bradford Café in Central Square Cambridge Mass, writing in my journal and looking at the TV, it all made sense that this would be the one film that could work as a video and exhibited on a TV monitor… An autobiographical film talking about the relentlessness of being in a hospital for two months after being shot while in Nicaragua in 1985. It would work in that format… Hospitals have monitors in the operation room.” (L.P.)

Ribbon Candy
2006, 16mm, 5 min.

“A Ribbon film. Thinking about a different intermittent aspect of film and how I might integrate various film gauges together… while celebrating the frame line and split image. This film pays homage to Jean Genet’s Un Chant d’amour.” (L.P.)

Door #2-37
1997, super 8, 15 min.

“I made this film while my sister Sally was going through cancer 1996-1997. She died in 1998. By that time, I had already made I’ll Cry Tomorrow Part One (1998). A little holiday story of … (L.P.)

Gift Givers
2013, super 8, 8 min.

“I see the human naked body —so bloody and sexual. Ripe and crimson and alive… Oh what a parasitic larva…” (L.P.)

Duration: 57 min. Sala (S8) PALEXCO – 1/06. 16.30h.

Program 2

Domestic Blue
2005, 16mm, 7 min.

“16mm slug filler. 35mm movie trailers printed onto 16mm. Frame registration is off as well the image printed falls into the optical soundtrack… with that, the image becomes the soundtrack. In this case, I gathered blue twilight footage and material… with children at night snug in bed along with an unknown… (L.P.)

2006, 16mm, 10 min.

“An excruciating montage of medical footage showing bodies being clamped, probed, sliced and sewn. Price sees Fancy as a film about healing and repair; old bodies being re-edited and remade, like just the tissues of the film.” (Ed Halter)

Nice Biscuit #1
2005, 16mm, 8 min.

“Yellows browns magentas and greens… like pus! A whirling scab! Moist and festering. The skin and its own life. Wrinkle… skinkell? It folds, it folds. The flies will come and the maggots will find you too…” (L.P.)

Inside Velvet K
2006, 16mm, 8 min.

“An apocalyptic postcard. Inside Velvet K is inspired by films like Soylent Green when flowers and strawberries were mere memories. The year 2037… one hundred years after my mother was born… and the stale rustic hunger prevails. We are fearful people. The nights lay no cover… the days blind and set the mind and things to order. Salvation and loss is only the choice of the past now. We walk alone… and only the lonely… lonely… evacuation… plans are made they say they said find something to hold on to really tight… The door will open and let you in… just stand under a doorway. Still. Very still. Stand straight and still. Upright and breathe…” (L.P.)

Aqua Woman / Inkblot #44
2011, 16mm, 5 min.

“Mothering… At this point, I’m completely in love with color, found footage and getting into an experimental narrative… process becomes everything… you just have to listen to it.” (L.P.)

2006, 16mm, 10 min.

“Parts of this film are the results from optical printing myself… old school… I felt right at home sitting in that small pitch black room, just clicking for hours by hand and foot pedal… and realized I could also manipulate the lenses on the projector while rephotographing. This footage was kept over a decade before I decided to dig into it… It’s one of my favorite films I’ve made.” (L.P.)

Dusty Ricket
2007, 16mm, 8 min.

“Outtakes put together from movies of African children. One of many Garden films… after splicing the footage together, I buried it in my garden for 6 months then dug it up. Washed it in my kitchen sink. Blow dried it and reeled it up. The children’s faces seem to emerge from clouds of dust.” (L.P.)

Duration: 56 min. Sala (S8) PALEXCO – 2/06. 16h.

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