Elizabeth Price was born in Bradford, 1966.
She studied at the Ruskin School of Art and Design, 1985 - 88
and the Royal College of Art, 1989 - 91
She lives and works in London
On entering the gallery there is a reception desk for a fictional publishing company: PREPAREPREPARE. Behind the desk on the left side of the gallery a series of photographs documents the attendance of a funeral hearse outside contemporary art galleries during a private view. After the Gallery Necrologies private view at OUTPOST a new episode will be included which records the (same) occurrence of Hearse Attending at the gallery. On the right-hand wall are five double-page spreads from broadsheet newspapers. Each displays a pictorial advertisement for the car manufacturer Renault. On further inspection it is evident that the artist has drawn over each promotional image with black ink to mask the car. In the centre of the room is a plinth. Housed within its vitrine are the remains of a mummified dog with a mummified rat in its mouth. An accompanying plaque relates its provenance and trajectory through previous gallery presentations. Black curtains partition the room behind which is projected the short film CRY, featuring Crystal Gayle. In the far right-hand corner a monitor relays a film documenting the artist occupied writing invitations to 1500 individuals listed on the mailing list of Mobile Home gallery in London. Publications Hearse Attending and Progress of a Sculpture are available for viewers to view or purchase.
A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Elizabeth Price.
Kaavous Clayton: Do you think it's a good idea to laugh at death?
Elizabeth Price: It's reasonable to laugh at Death, to use it as a motif to render authority and hubris absurd. (Whenever I have come into close contact with death, I haven't found it amusing.) I try to use the motif of Death, not just to mock, but also to mourn. The jokes are intended to be sardonic and regretful.
KC: It seems as if your exhibitions are mourning the death of a stage of creation. We see a snapshot of some of your evolving works (such as Hearse Attending and Boulder) frozen in time and waiting for you to make them live again. Does it feel like a death each time you show these works?
EP: They are kept pending, I suppose. 'Officially' unfinished: a state which is administratively claimed, rather than visible. I don't think of it as a death each time they are remade, but a temporary reactivation. The ongoing nature of the works keeps step with the wider institutional and economic habitat that holds and shapes them. Whilst that persists, so will my comic protests (so: indefinitely). The 'creation' you talk about, is probably the unimaginable one, these works proxy for.
KC: These works are inextricably linked to you and your death. Is the work only truly finished when you die?
EP: I don't know. I try to invent myself as a kind of character through the persistent, dogged tasks. It gives the representations of time and labour a different value. They are not abstracted human resources, but drawn from a life. By linking them to my embodied time, rather than to an institutional or economic timetable of production, they infer my death as their ultimate outcome, which is a funny sort of product.
KC: There also seems to be a close link to ideas of collecting related to your works. They collect their own histories upon their labels and some of the processes are in themselves a collection of acts or activities.
EP: I try to make the works reveal their own provenance, their narratives of production. Pieces like the mummified dog accrete the evidence of their transit, by accumulating information, and material exhaustion or wear. I think I probably mimic institutional vernacular in my procedures, so the repetitive tasks seem like some administrative job of work, rather than obsessive. Institutional repetitions don't tend to get characterised as neurotic, (which they certainly should be). I want the activities and procedures to invoke institutional neurosis, which are the resort of private ones. It's a language of inarticulacy, of repression, which is a further answer to your second question.
KC: Going back to my second question is neurotically repetitive.