Hannah Levy

Hannah Levy

A Design Purgatory

“I wonder if the reason why people want to touch it is that they’re in some way attracted to it, or if they’re repulsed by it.” Meet the young artist Hannah Levy, who primarily makes sculptures combining curving steel forms with cast silicone.

There is a strong urge to touch or fondle her sculptures: “It’s almost like when you taste something bad, and you tell someone to taste it too.” Levy’s work is oddly compelling and visually tactile. When creating her sculptures, she combines different forms in unusual ways, creating objects that are recognizable but hard to place. Familiar, harmless forms suddenly become surreal or even off-putting: “In combining those things I try to create something that I think of as a design purgatory," forms that exist in flux between a variety of mundane objects that are familiar yet strangely unsettling.

Levy likes to work with silicone as she feels that its texture and flexibility is visually recognizable as similar to that of our bodies. She casts objects in different shades of Caucasian skin tones, which makes the objects look flesh-like or even like a part of a human body – making otherwise harmless objects like a croissant seem suddenly phallic: “I think there’s an underlying kind of perversity to that… some kind of kinkiness too – the idea of sitting on a chair that’s the same colour as you.” In continuation of this, Levy is interested in the sexuality of many designed objects that are often shaped in sensual ways with curves that don’t really serve a practical purpose, but are designed to attract our eyes: “I think there is a lot of hidden sexuality in our design forms just because humans at the end of the day are pretty basic in our urges.” She often exaggerates these bodily curves in her work, pushing them to a point where the curving limbs of her steel structures often become as sensual as the fleshy forms they carry.

Hannah Levy (b. 1991) is an American artist, who makes sculptures from silicone and steel. An example of her work is ‘Untitled’ (2014-15), which shows a silicone cast of iPhone earphones caressed, rubbed and squeezed by a pair of hands. The repetitive movements allow the earbud form – designed to fill a bodily cavity –to become a form of throbbing anatomy in itself. The mundane manipulation of the pink silicone form becomes oddly sexual. Levy has participated in several solo/two person shows as well as group exhibitions in Europe and in the U.S., most recently at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and MoMA PS1 in New York City. For more see: http://www.hannahslevy.com/

Hannah Levy was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at her studio in The Bronx, New York City in July 2017.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Jørgen Leth & Alex Da Corte

    The Perfect Monster

    Watch the celebrated Danish poet and film director, Jørgen Leth (b. 1937), and a sparkling star on the art scene, Alex Da Corte (b. 1980), talk about the latter’s shot-for-shot remake of – and homage to – Leth’s iconic film ‘The Perfect Human’.

  • Riad Sattouf

    Advice to Young Cartoonists

    Watch the acclaimed cartoonist Riad Sattouf draw while sharing his advice for colleagues: “Be careful with advice, it’s not always good. Find your own way of expressing yourself, everything is acceptable, there’s no one good way to draw or not draw.”

  • Jean-Marc Bustamante

    The Notion of Landscape

    “I think art is not very useful, it’s a question of what you feel.” Watch the acclaimed French artist and photographer Jean-Marc Bustamante, who merges photography and painting, and whose starting point is always the concept of landscape.

  • John Giorno

    A Visit to the Poet

    “Poetry never dies. You can’t kill poetry.” We called on John Giorno – one of the most influential figures in contemporary performance poetry – in his legendary home on the Bowery in New York, to talk about the innate freedom and possibilities of poetry.

  • John Giorno

    Inside William Burroughs' Bunker

    Step inside ‘The Bunker’ in New York, the windowless former apartment of legendary writer William S. Burroughs, and let yourself be guided around – from Burroughs’ typewriter to his shooting target – by its current resident, iconic poet John Giorno.

  • Colson Whitehead

    I Have to Know the Destination

    “I became a writer once I realised no one liked my stuff.” Watch Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey’s favourite author, Pulitzer Prize-winning Colson Whitehead, on how rejections of his first stab at a novel made him realize that he wanted to pursue writing.

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • 11 Artists

    First Encounter with Art

    “That was the beginning of my film and photography career – my first image ended up under the Russian soldier’s boot.” Watch Jonas Mekas, Laurie Anderson, Paul Auster, Gerhard Richter and 7 other acclaimed artists on how they began their career.