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January 31 – February 2, 2015

The World Made Flesh and Freed by Song and Sadness -
The Visions of Luther Price

“Pain is my friend .... Pain is my foe ..... Pain is my life ... I'm complete...”  –  Luther Price

The intensely hand-crafted films of Luther Price (b. 1962) unleash the primal and emotional potential of photochemical cinema as a resolutely organic medium whose unruly life and death is uniquely in tune with the quickening pulse of the human heart. Whether scratching, staining or burying his films in his seaside garden in Revere, Massachusetts, Price embraces an impressive range of artistic and alchemical techniques to aggressively push the fragile emulsion to a near breaking point and discover a realm where oneiric imagery intermingles with painterly abstraction. In found footage films such as A Patch of Green, Kittens Grow Up and House, Price’s instinctual editing unearths a hidden language within his salvaged images, a dark unconscious (re)awakened as he poetically fuses forgotten educational, industrial and pornographic films together with the anonymous home movies that remain a major touchstone of his work.

At the very center of Price’s oeuvre lies the deeply, often painfully, personal series of “home movies” he completed around the time of his mother and sister’s tragically premature deaths by cancer. Drawing from his vast archive of photographs, sound recordings and video footage, powerful works such as Home and Door #2-37 assemble moving, searing portraits of Price’s deceased loved ones, together offering an intimate yet still beautifully private chronicle of his lost family. The trauma of sickness, scars and death experienced by Price echoes throughout his films in the recurrent striking, at times shocking, images of the human body; images which alternately tremble with a palpable fleshiness or the dark shadow of disease’s slow decay. A further autobiographical level is openly embraced by the damaged bodies of Price’s films which also recall his own near fatal injury and scarring suffered in an accidental shooting during an ill-fated visit to Nicaragua. In Price’s cinema the photochemical emulsion, the body of the film, poignantly becomes one with human flesh, an equal emblem of fleeting mortality and fragile memory.

Price’s twin artistic background as a sculptor and performance artist (with a MFA in Sculpture and Media/Performing Arts from the Massachusetts College of the Arts where he is now a senior instructor) remains ever-present throughout his vast oeuvre, from his first Super 8 films of the 1980s, directed under the name of Tom Rhoads and starring himself in various guises and disguises, to his more recent work with 35mm slides, or “static films” as Price has called them, a body of work featured in the Whitney Biennial and beautifully showcased in a major Carpenter Center exhibit. Treating film as a dynamically sculptural and plastic medium, Price’s films rend and twist their images away from the frame and in tune with their alternately musical and abstract soundtracks.

Presented in conjunction with a weeklong exhibit of 35mm “Light Fracture” slides in the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the three programs in the Harvard Film Archive retrospective offer an archaeology of Price’s extraordinary career and imagination, spanning from his first Super 8 films (including his 1986 debut film Cold, Cold Heart) and early performance works such as Meat Blue 03 to the deeply moving portraits of his own family from the late 1990s and more recent collage and found footage works from his still on-going series of “Ribbon”, “Ink Blot” and “Garden” films.

The Harvard Film Archive is honored to welcome Luther Price for three evenings of films and conversations, joined as well by renowned film curator, critic and scholar Ed Halter, co-founder of the celebrated Brooklyn “micro-cinema” Light Industry and Critic in Residence at Bard College. – Haden Guest

The Carpenter Center exhibit Luther Price: Light Windows is on display from January 26-February 1 and was organized by John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center James Voorhies.


$12 Special Event Tickets
Luther Price in conversation with Ed Halter

Saturday January 31 at 7pm

 
All films directed by Luther Price

Run

US 1994, Super 8, color, sound on cassette, 16 min

 

House

US 1990, Super 8, color, silent, 3 min

 

Yellow Goodbye

US 1999, Super 8, color, sound on cassette, 13 min

 

Meat Blue 03

US 1999, Super 8, color, 18 min

 

Inkblot #44, "Aqua Woman"

US 2009-11, 16mm, color, 8 min

A reception in the Carpenter Center follows screening and discussion.

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Luther Price in person

Sunday February 1 at 7pm

 
All films directed by Luther Price

Domestic White

US 2004, 16mm, color & b/w, 3 min

 

Cold, Cold Heart

US 1986, Super 8, color, 3 min

 

Recitations

US 1999, Super 8, color & b/w, sound on cassette, 13 min

 

Home

US 1999, Super 8, color, sound on cassette,
13 min

 

Home, Slides

US 1999, 35mm slides, color, silent, 7 min

 

Door #2, 37

US 1997, Super 8, color, sound on cassette, 13 min

 

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Monday February 2 at 7pm

 
All films directed by Luther Price

A Patch of Green

US 2004, 16mm, b/w, 8 min

 

Burgin and Tonic, Reel 1

US 2012, 16mm, color & b/w, 8 min

Porcelain Ribbon

US 1990, Super 8, b/w, silent, 4 min

 

Kittens Grow Up

US 2007, 16mm, color, 29 min

 

Shelly Winters

US 2010, 16mm, b/w, 10 min

 

The Turquoise Garden

US 2006, 16mm, color, 8 min

 

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700