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

  • Ian Cheng

    A Portal to Infinity

    Watch Ian Cheng, a rising star on the art scene, talk about his trilogy of animated live simulation works – ‘Emissaries’ – which work like a never-ending video game in real time: “It was a process that was on-going as life is on-going.”

  • Yona Friedman

    Advice to the Young

    What piece of advice would a renowned 94-year-old architect offer young architects? Find out in this short video, where Yona Friedman argues that architects must always adapt to the context and work for the average user.

  • Jan Gehl

    How to Build a Good City

    “We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.” Meet the 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl, who for more than fifty years has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people “re-conquer the city.”

  • Beate Grimsrud

    Who You Are

    A common thread in Beate Grimsrud’s novels is her portrayal of offbeat characters. Find out how the Norwegian writer wishes to broaden the spectrum for normality by becoming “a ladder” for all voices: “I suppose my aim is to include the outsiders.”

  • Sambuichi

    Why Hiroshima Became Green Again

    Hiroshi Sambuichi – one of the leading green architects of our time – here reflects on his hometown Hiroshima and how “the power of nature” helped the landscape to restore so rapidly following the atomic bombings during World War II.

  • Michael Kvium

    Circus Europe

    “It’s a constant pleasure for me that I can get people so worked up.” Join us for a studio visit with painter Michael Kvium, particularly known for his characteristic figurative imagery. He here talks about addressing contemporary issues through his art.

  • Chris Kraus

    Changing Lives

    Experience American writer Chris Kraus, author of the iconic feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’, in this passionate talk about the apolitical art scene and the challenges of being a woman in our contemporary consumer-focused world.

  • Laurie Anderson

    A Virtual Reality of Stories

    In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.

  • Paul Auster

    Unhappy Unrest

    Paul Auster is one of the USA’s most important contemporary writers. In this short video, he speaks his mind about the growing right-wing and Donald Trump: “I think he’s the most dangerous being that has ever existed in public office in the United States.”

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Social Surrealism

    She finds her odd “bigger than life characters” on the internet. In her peculiar, dreamlike video works they use their bodies as means of production creating what the artist calls “a spiritual kind of Marxism.” Meet the incomparable Mika Rottenberg!

  • Peter Land

    Man Falling

    Meet an artist who uncompromisingly uses himself in his art. Inspired by his own fears and anxieties Peter Land makes disturbingly humorous work, but it was moral qualms that were behind his groundbreaking video of himself dancing naked.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Girl Power From Another Century

    Meet the truly original video artist Mika Rottenberg! Here she shares the fascinating story behind her take on Orwell's 'Animal Farm' – a work in which a group of women with extremely long hair turn things around – and take fate into their own hands.