Luther Price: NEW UTOPIA and LIGHT FRACTURE: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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A repeated image of a woman's face on a textured 35mm slide
Luther Price's NEW UTOPIA 35mm slide
7 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Thu March 28, 2024
7 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public



With Visual Studies Workshop Curator Tara Merenda Nelson in person!


The handmade 35mm slides “feel like film, but they also feel like paintings, and they also feel like sculpture. They fill a space in a different way. The slides have allowed me to rethink things, set myself into a new pattern of working, in a whole other format that is still projection, is still light.” –Luther Price

Experimental filmmaker Luther Price (1962-2020) was one of the most original voices in American avant-garde cinema. Beginning in the mid-1980s with Super 8mm films and continuing in 16mm from the 1990s to his untimely passing in 2020, Price produced a large body of work that was raw, visceral, dark, and beautiful. Moving away from his own filmed material early on, Price embraced found footage filmmaking – transforming the often banal found images through aggressive editing and later by distressing the found film material with household cleaning products, by burying film in his backyard allowing it to rot, and by hand-painting the footage. Carried over from his early sculptural work, Price brought a hands-on, tactile approach to filmmaking, which he further extended beginning in the 2000s to collage-like handmade 35mm slides. In his films and slides, Price dealt directly and indirectly with issues around family, injury, queerness, trauma, and death. His work ranged from provocative and disturbing to tender and beautiful – reflecting Price’s own complicated personal histories unapologetically.

This program features the projection of two series of 35mm slides – New Utopia and Light Fracture, both from 2017, that Price donated to the Visual Studies Workshop. VSW curator Tara Merenda Nelson will introduce and provide context for these astonishing mini-collages. Accompanying the slide works are two early Super 8mm films by Price: the performance-based film Clown (1990-2002) and the found footage collage film Jellyfish Sandwich (1994).

Program includes:

NEW UTOPIA (Luther Price, 2017, projection of eighty handmade 35mm slides)

LIGHT FRACTURE (Luther Price, 2017, projection of eighty handmade 35mm slides)

CLOWN (Luther Price, 1990-2002, 13 min, Super 8mm film)

JELLYFISH SANDWICH (Luther Price, 1994, 17 min, Super 8mm film)

About Luther Price:

LUTHER PRICE (January 26, 1962 – June 13, 2020) was a prodigious artist whose work unearthed the deepest, darkest corners of the human experience. Working in film, sculpture, and performance, his haunting portrayals are often manifestations of personas drawn from lived traumas, thickly layered with paint, glitter, glue, and bodily fluids. Born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, Price attended the Massachusetts College of Art in the early 1980’s, where he studied sculpture and performance before turning to Super 8 film. His practice evolved to include found footage and “handmade film” techniques, incorporating ink, dirt, spit, splices, and the process of decay into the production. Price’s work with 16mm found footage is some of the most sophisticated in the tradition, with more than 80 original titles created in the course of his career. In the last decade of his life, Price created breathtaking collages on 35mm slides, combining the techniques he had mastered in his film works to culminate in single frame compositions.

About Tara Merenda Nelson:

Tara Merenda Nelson is a filmmaker, curator, programmer, and lecturer working with film and digital media. At Visual Studies Workshop Nelson oversees the cataloging, preservation, and interpretation of the VSW collections. She is the lead programmer for the VSW Salon, and the Managing Editor of VSW Press. Recent publications from VSW Press’s Film Art Book (FAB) imprint include: Bouquets 11-20: Notebooks by Rose Lowder (2018); Measuring Time by Ephraim Asili (2020); and Feral Domestic by Dani and Sheilah ReStack (2022).

New publication, available for purchase at the event!

This event is presented on the occasion of Visual Studies Workshop’s publication of Luther Price: New Utopia and Light Fracture, which draws images from Price's slides in the VSW's collection, and features an introduction by New York City-based film programmer and writer Ed Halter. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Image credit: Luther Price's NEW UTOPIA 35mm slide

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at