Elizabeth Price photo from slide lecture Reid Lecture Theatre Glasgow School of Art 2023 Photo Rachel Mc Brinn
Elizabeth Price, photo from slide lecture, Reid Lecture Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, 2023

On the lowest of the three screens, Elizabeth Price’s KOHL begins as the other two (FELT TIP and THE TEACHERS) wait patiently nearby. The films have the presence of siblings, or European waiters. Even when I face the other way, all three remain poised and attentive. Four not-quite-bodies, a pulsing hard drive, and paper thin tie-ferns hold the three screens between plays.

These films contain little filmed footage. Mostly photographs, computer generated 3D animations, and images that can’t be so easily placed. I am thinking about how each of these timeline ‘objects’, [1] as Price calls them, converge to hold the very particular space of her work.

KOHL is split into four vertical panels, neatly tiled with four colours each in their own lane. It’s a saturated, digital language, but as the hues spill slowly upwards, I am reminded of ink seeping across fabric. Cursors blinking, the ‘chorus of four narrators’ begin typing in turn. [2]

Images of coal mine pitheads appear one-by-one, each announced by the click of a mouse. They are upside-down at the top of the screen, placing us physically below them, but above ground in the geography of the film-space. The photographic imagery of the pitheads is inverted twice—up is down and dark is light. There is a sense of flatness, of sharp focus, everything is brought right to the surface of the screen. In the absence of a true horizon, an underlying, relational geometry emerges between the panels of each work and is carried across the installation as each screen inflects the other. As one narrator jests, ‘Sound carries well through mine-water. You can have a laugh in Wath at a joke cracked in Ackton’. [3] The reference to networks and infrastructure, chains of transmission, is placed and steadily reinforced throughout the three works.

In KOHL, our attention is attuned to a single axis—above and below. This serves to remind the viewer of the subterranean architecture of coal mining, relics of an abandoned paradigm, structures which are hidden but don’t go away.

This relationship is echoed in Price’s working process, she describes dragging everything—images, clips, animations, sound objects—onto the timeline and never really clearing it off again. This unused material litters the digital timeline, hidden underneath or alongside the chosen clips and providing a sense of density to the work while in its mutable form. The final edit of the film becomes a blanket laid delicately on top of these supporting objects, stacked and sifted, quietly settled underneath. For her, leaving them there is a way to remember what she has looked at, to keep present in mind all the stuff that will not be seen, and to allow for complexity and contradiction. She says, ‘sometimes things are intellectually pruned and we don’t learn what we could have if we had kept that inconsistency for longer’. [4]

Price tessellates with precision, both exposing and imposing intricate patterning. She is concerned with how things are connected, and how echoes of one thing can be found reverberating through another. A stiletto is a stylus, the tie a tongue. [5] [6] Speaking to the computer chip inspired designs found on the 1960-90s ties that appear in FELT TIP (incidentally Price’s own personal collection), a narrator notes ‘the familiar diagonal bands take on the resemblance to conduits, leads and wires. They bifurcate and intersect, creating grids and networks rhythmically punctuated with modular elements.’ [7] These ties are shown isolated in short black-and-white video clips, each flung into the portrait-format frame in a curated manner. Magnifications of each tie are also shown, scaled by the projector so that we become aware of not only each thread within the weave but almost each fibre within the thread.

In SLOW DANS and much of Price’s work, there is a sense of artifice to the image, a gesture toward the uncanny in the way she manipulates photographic imagery or makes use of computer generated animations. Price describes the desire to ‘delay or promote a different kind of reading’, seeking a ‘temporary moment of estrangement’, [8] manipulating images which could otherwise be more easily categorised. This process complicates the viewer’s reading of the work; a linear narrative is disrupted to allow space for imaginative (dis)association and embodied response. This approach in particular revitalises the role of the archive in her work, alluding to the limitations of the historic record and allowing entry into a new space of imaginative possibility. As artist and writer Katrina Palmer recently remarked, ‘if you want to represent an absence there is no point in filling holes.’ [9]

Price presents layers of obfuscation and anonymity; in her animations she often leaves the viewer with an edited or generalised version of her subject. A smooth felt tip bounces around a glass with an almost inflatable lightness. An emoji-like hard drive sits, light pulsing. Not someone dancing, but legs. Not a person speaking, but voice.

I crane my neck to the highest of the three screens for the closing quartet: THE TEACHERS. They appear as flat paper cut-outs from vintage fashion magazines, collected and playfully rocked in front of the camera by Price. A deceptively simple technique that she shares during her lecture on the work with a rare humility and openness. [10]

Just the dress, nothing underneath. ‘There are no bodies in my work’, Price asserts. [11]

The four figures are identical, and mirrored back-and-forth across the sequence. I am reminded of kaleidoscopes or a child’s ink-blot paintings. Their uniformity reinforces the group as a singular entity; light refracted from a single prism.

Driven by the soundtrack, the stories accelerate. A sense of a process picking up speed, or in freefall. I’m making notes, trying to describe how this film feels in my body as I sit in this dark, dark room. The work feels gently haunted. I write spectral composition or didactic disco lesson. As I write, a new beat emerges in parallel, slightly dislocated from the soundtrack. It’s behind me, to the right. The rhythmic sound of the restoration work on the exterior of the building. Or could it be, as I thought for a brief moment, the narrators themselves knocking on the walls.


Rachel McBrinn is an artist and filmmaker based in Edinburgh. Her filmmaking practice is rooted in conversation and relationship building, incorporating elements of observational documentary, experimental image-making, and often builds upon long term site-responsive and archival research. Recent work has formed around the themes of land management, town planning, urban and rural ecologies. Her new film Are You Going My Way? screens on MAP online until 18 May, 2023. In April 2023 MAP also published extracts from the accompanying book Winding Up Body.

SLOW DANS by Elizabeth Price, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow 27 Jan-14 May


[1] Price, Elizabeth, (2021) LECTURE: The Chorus and their Memory. Available at: https://vimeo.com/465767601

[2] Ibid

[3] Price, Elizabeth, (2018) KOHL. SLOW DANS. 27 Jan - 14 May 2023, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

[4] Price, Elizabeth, (2023) School of Fine Art Friday Event, Reid Lecture Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, 24 March 2023

[5] Price, Elizabeth, (2020) Stiletto

[6] Price, Elizabeth, (2018) FELT TIP. SLOW DANS. 27 Jan - 14 May 2023, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow

[7] Ibid

[8] Price, Elizabeth, (2023) School of Fine Art Friday Event, Reid Lecture Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, 24 March 2023

[9] McCormack, Chris, (2023) Corridors of Power: Katrina Palmer interviewed by Chris McCormack. Art Monthly no. 463. p.1

[10] Price, Elizabeth, (2023) School of Fine Art Friday Event, Reid Lecture Theatre, Glasgow School of Art, 24 March 2023

[11] Ibid