New Art Exchange
East Midlands

British Art Show 7: Elizabeth Price User Group Disco, (Hall of Sculptures) 2009

15minute HD video, colour, sound.

22nd October – 9th January 2010

 New Art Exchange, Nottingham

When I enter the video is silent. The screen a menacing blackout. One amputated slender, silky smooth plastic leg lies static in the black ocean. I take a seat on the bench in front of the projection. Yellow text blurs in and out of focus.

We have designated this place/this place here/ a hall/ it is a hall of sculptures/ though nothing in it would deserve that name/

A static pile of miscellaneous objects convene (a.). A continual eerie hum projects into the room, monochrome objects begin to fly around the screen, dipping and diving throughout the black void mass, lost of identity. The camera spins, twists, turns, and ducks. Catching the objects with only small seductive segments of light; allowing just enough time for the audience to realise the gleam and glint of the surface. Liquid music and twangs of guitar infiltrate themselves, the objects ever-changing, slowly allowing you to place the previously unidentifiable object. Rotating burly mechanical nuts and bolts, machine parts, tie racks and whisks. The “Hall of Sculptures” as Price entitles it and the order of objects instantly takes me back to watching the conveyor belt on ‘Generation Game’. Mundane household utensils, debris and ubiquitous items. With this in mind I begin to reference television commercials, sexualising every object. Making it appeal for mass consumption, toying with our compulsive desires for gadgets and gizmos.

“Reinforcing the notions of desire and consumption in which we are all complicit.” 2.

Symptomatic of each item being sturdy, smooth and masculine. Liquid pours, runs freely, visceral sounds amplify.


Injects the objects with; confidence, masculinity and empowerment. They demand ownership of the space.

The video slows down in pace once again, with periods of silence and phases of an empty black screen, occasional sentences blur in and blur out again. As I enter a trance like state; objectifying the items; I realise that the music playing has penetrated me. The soundtrack produced by artist Jem Noble is a gradual build up of empowering songs, combining melodies by artists such as The Cure and Joy Division, I feel my adrenaline pumping, I want to join in with the joyous dancing, feel the objects myself, have them circulate me. Entrap me in their beautifully choreographed ritual. The volume gradually increases and decreases depending on the motion of the pirouetting totems. I am lifted out of my seduction by the camera lingering on a disco ball, the music builds and A-Ha’s Take On Me bursts out of the speakers, catapulting me into party mode. Deliberately excessive and overly loud, the objects react to this sound, bouncing around like keen-o pop stars trying to escape the screen.

Taking extracts from archives of corporate power-point presentations, text incessantly flashes and creeps across the screen. In short bursts or phrases, several sections bright red FuturaBold font, referencing the work of Barbara Kruger. I found the text partially distracting. I know it may have been putting her work into context, giving her work substance, but it just distracted from all the sexiness and dancing. I found that I had little interest in trying to read the transcript as it flew over the screen, although some segments of text did seem compulsory. Such as: defining taxonomy and the organisation of objects, referring to us as compulsive consumers. I had to discipline myself to read the words, take the time to attain an understanding, I found the prose distracted from the moving image.

“..a solution to bringing text, image and narrative together…so they resemble advertising…”1.

I wondered why it was important to gather all these aspects together. It permits the audience to be less imaginative, giving them all the information they require, although arguably this did create an additional experience for the audience. I felt uplifted, allowing the music to carry me into an empowered state of mind. Whereas contrast to this peers felt that it was depressing, wholly monochrome, with a defeatist attitude and flirting with the obvious and only ending for us all, death.

Walk into the shreds of flames / they will not bite into your flesh / you will understand that you too / are a mere appearance / dreamt by another

Ceramic glossy female forms are encircled by the camera. The eroticised items rotate with hierarchal attitude, allowing the viewer to objectify their figures. Breasts jutting outwards and upwards, bent over and wrapped around mugs, bowls, bottles. Hands gestural, round glassy bums in the air, deep shadows overlooking their crevices. Smooth anonymous faces rotating past the viewer (b.). As they occupy the screen singly, the pace begins to slow down, the music lowers in volume and your entire focus is on the kitsch pottery females. The ending is abrupt, the ceramic body’s rotation slowly grinds to a halt, the music stops immediately and it is removed from the screen. Refusing the viewer any right of witnessing the object static. Again the observer is presented with darkness.

User Group Disco, 2009 is the second stage to The New Ruined Institute a planned series for galleries to host an unfolding yet incomplete museum. The inaugural episode The Atrium, 2008 is, as well as User Group Disco, 2009, constructed like a tour guide led by an onscreen guide or overhead narrator, being steered throughout a fictional institutional building.

The New Ruined Institute comprises an attempt to constitute a flexible container for the excessive production of the 20th century, for what Price called ‘unredeemed, sensual debris.'” 3.


Rebecca Ounstead, Nottingham Trent University, BA Fine Art

1.     Elizabeth Price, BAS7 book

2.     Elizabeth Price, BAS& book

3.     Sam Thorne, Follow Me: Social histories and spectral fictions in the films of Elizabeth Price, Frieze 134, October