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