Turner Prize winner explores Oxford museums' collections and archives

Are you interested in finding out more about how contemporary video artists respond to museum collections and archives? If so, why not take the opportunity to visit Elizabeth Price's current exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford? 

After winning the Contemporary Arts Award in 2013, she was commissioned to create a new work in response to the collections and archives of the Ashmolean and Pitts River museums in Oxford. During the course of her research, Elizabeth became particularly interested in the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans, a former curator of the Ashmolean who achieved fame for excavating the Cretian palace of Knossos at the beginning of the twentieth century. He set about restoring the site with extraordinary creative license, adding concrete pillars and filling in frescos with what she describes as 'a kind of energy that is unreserved and febrile and exciting'. 

Elizabeth Price, still from Restoration, 2016

Elizabeth Price, still from Restoration, 2016

In response, Elizabeth has created a twenty-minute video that opens with images of Evans's finds set to a musical soundtrack. The fictional account is narrated by a synthetic female voice representing a 'chorus' of museum administrators responsible for organising the archive. As the film progresses, it gradually becomes apparent that they share Evans's permissive approach, having a somewhat unruly attitude towards the materials they are supposed to be bringing together. The stems of frescoed flowers quiver into CGI life, brushed by an imaginary breeze. Then the administrators put animals into this fertile garden before amassing records and plans to figuratively reconstruct the palace. Finally, they become taxonomically reckless, gathering together weapons, drinking cups and vessels from all periods of history from the collections of both museums. There's a short preview here

If you'd like to know more about Elizabeth Price's work, why not take a look at her entry on the website for the Ruskin School of Art where she teaches?