Video 20 minutes
At the House of Mr X by Elizabeth Price takes as its subject the home of an anonymous art collector, designed and built in the late 1960s. Only briefly inhabited, the House and its contents remain immaculately preserved.
The film opens as a visit to the house. A slow, visual tour begins, proceeding from the entrance through open-plan areas, into every room. The elegant geometry of the spaces, the varied materials of the architecture, and the luxurious modernist furnishings are attentively documented. In particular, the camera dwells upon gleaming, reflective surfaces: the lustre of coloured glass; bright plastics and the liquid-shine of chrome.
The tour is directed by a silent narrator, present as an on-screen script, punctuated with percussion and close-harmony vocal arrangements. This narrator is the Guide for the tour, and the only protagonist in the film. Its script is collaged from documents relating to the House, art collection, and business ventures of the former resident, who generated his wealth through cosmetics brands Outdoor Girl and Mary Quant. The resulting combination of administrative, curatorial and commercial languages, produces an equivocal identity: as you move through the pristine interiors the tone shifts from deadpan taxonomical description to the solicitation and innuendo of advertising copy.
Your visit provides the only incident interrupting the listless inertia of the House. Under the direction of the Guide, you are ushered through the interiors, invited to enjoy its luxury, exhorted to fully inhabit the exquisite memorial.
Elizabeth Price is an artist who works to generate and adapt historical collections and archives. This includes the production of new bodies of material, developed by Price over many years, as well as the detournement of existing ones. In a recent series of projects Price has been working with publicly inaccessible or mothballed art collections, bringing them to half-light, in reconfigured shape, through video.
At the House of Mr X has been screened at the British Film Institute, Southbank London (2008), Frieze Art Fair (2010) and many other venues since its premiere at the Stanley Picker Gallery.
Elizabeth Price was the Turner Prize Winner 2012