02 October 2009

Levi van Veluw

You get extra points if you make an old thing new.  You get extra points if you make a new thing newer.  You get extra-extra points if you make a new thing and do new stuff with it.

Extra-extra points go to Levi van Veluw.

I'm totally into this concept of sculpture, performance moments that can only be captured on film.  If I were a photographer, it would all be about creating the next scene that would tell the whole story.  Realize the character, find the motivation in the pose, create a backdrop, find the props, find the costume, do some makeup, adjust the lighting and walla... you have one frame of a film.  That frame can define an entire plot if it's good enough.  Good enough:  an expression or motion that is out of control and unexpected.  Photographers, spare me your allusions to genre, spare me the after effects and processing.  Hollywood baby!  Hollywood!  Be your own producer.

But I'm getting off topic from Levi, who, decided to turn his head into a sculpture.  Photography for him is just a delivery device.  Sticking to laws of consistency required in modern art, it's the same three-quarter pose every time.   Perhaps an alienated, and remote pose.  Perhaps it's gray and un-biased.  Like a mannequin.  I might be reading too far, but I see a little victimization in the eyes (when you can see them) along the lines of, "the senses, they overwhelm me."


I don't think this is about Levi and how he treats himself.  I think these are statements on humanity and his head became the most convenient canvas to work with.   The simplicity is humbling, and the graphic impact is astounding.  It's a breath of fresh air to see an artist doing something so conceptual without ignoring the fact that the image MUST be awe-inspiring.

The hair pieces caught my eye first.  I love an eyeless figure for some reason but a hair covered face brings up Cousin It, Chewbacca.  Unlike those lovable characters, Levi's hair is oiled and greasy and pasted on the face like a trap.  There seems to be a suffacation possible, or perhaps this is a mummification process.


Turning your head into a landscape in genius.  Every man is an island, we are our environment, we are our own ecosystem, we have our own seasons.  Not to mention allusions to Robert Blake and the Green Man.


I think it was 5th grade when I witnessed a classmate write on himself with ballpoint pen, chewing the end of it so ink stained his lips and his tongue turned blue.  I was fascinated.  The act seemed to break all bounds of social acceptance and challenged the adult world.  My classmates ignored his behavior like he was some homeless crazy.  If Levi is doing things to himself, sometimes, I'm beginning to see where this is coming from.


Media is so primitive, but the ideas flow even without a proper vehicle.  Turning into an element or being transformed by nature is so hard to illustrate but here he does it with the ease of a magician.  Transmogrification, post human avatar skinning,  or a bunch of glue and chips of wood pain-stakingly formed to the face, the effect is the same and we humans use what we have to make it work.

There is so much more.  Candy is too good to be true.  Do check out the work:  Levi Van Veluw

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