Elizabeth Price

21 March 2012
Elizabeth Price, User Group Disco (film still), 2009, HD video, 15minutes. Courtesy the artist and MOT International

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

User Group Disco is a 15 minute high definition video by acclaimed British artist, Elizabeth Price. This important work is the second piece in a trilogy forming part of an ongoing series which navigates the notional architecture and collection of a fictional museum, with this work being the ‘Hall of Sculptures’. There are however no conventional sculptures in this museum, just as there are no people and no visible spatial environments or architectures; simply the debris of rotating and pirouetting objects, utensils and ornaments in a black void. The choreography of these sculptures is accompanied by a pulsating sound track and text statements, collaged from celebrated male authors, which collapse the distinctions between art objects and social history artefacts, and the strange and compulsive desires of consumerism. In doing so, they draw attention to the way in which objects are classified, displayed and given status and meaning in museological systems, offering a prism through which to understand human civilisation.

We are fortunate in possessing a collection that has extraordinary strengths in many areas, thanks to the passion and perspicacity of my predecessors. The collection remains at the heart of our programme, and informs our identity as an international institution. The challenge we face is common to all — how to ensure the continued excellence of the collection when funds are scarce. A new work has the potential not only to allow us to show the best of what is contemporary, but to renew our view of what we hold already, to ensure that collections remain perpetually new. This is also what I take to be the subject of Elizabeth Price’s wholly compelling, ‘User Group Disco’, a work about the status of objects through time rendered utterly seductive through the film’s sensuous superficiality. We look forward to showing this work shortly in the context of the history of sculpture from 1900 to now as part of The Sculpture Show, the latest in a series of major exhibitions drawn almost entirely from the gallery’s own collection.

DR SIMON GROOM: Director of Modern and Contemporary Art, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

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