Winner of the prestigious Turner Prize in 2012, British artist Elizabeth Price has created a totally immersive fifteen-minutes video for the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford after winning the Contemporary Art Society Award in 2013. On display at the Ashmolean museum until May 15, the digital artwork ‘A Restoration’ will then enter its permanent collections.

It took the artist two years of intense work to complete a video installation that combines ‘in tandem’ moving images, music, written words and synthetic voices to sustain the narrative of a story built in response to the collections and the archives of the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers museums in Oxford. ‘In my film I have tried to reflect upon the objects that the two museums hold and exhibit, through the history of their repeated depiction in photographs, prints and drawings. In this history of images and interpretations we see the objects change, and this is the basis of the story I have imagined’ says Elizabeth Price about her new work.

As in a story, ‘A Restoration’ has a start, a middle and an end. The music is very immersive and it gives a clear start and then melt into the story as an integral part of it, soon joined in by the voices and the written words on screen of the fictional museums’ administrators in the role of narrators. The archival images related to the records of Arthur Evan’s excavation of the ancient Cretan city of Knossos start to appear in a quick sequence on the two screens that are positioned next to one other as the pages of an open book, in the same order as they would appear on the museums administrators’ computers. The result is a live simulation of how the Knossos Labyrinth must have appeared in the old times. Then a number of artefacts from the two museums flow on the screens coming in from different directions within the video, and the narrators announce that nothing was created to be placed in a museum but indeed to be well maintained in some cases, or in others to be broken, but all in need of a restoration afterwards. A falling glass, that disappears from the view, is the final sequence of moving images, followed a few seconds later by a crashing sound that concludes the story.

Elizabeth Price is definitively a storyteller of our times and in her own way. Through ‘A Restoration’, she initiates a dialogue with an audience that is not necessarily engaged with contemporary art neither with archaeology or ancient history, bringing the museum and its collections to life in her story.

The Elizabeth Price video installation is now open until May 15th 2016.

Preview Clip of Elizabeth Prize’s video installation now open at Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.



Article by Romina Provenzi