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Erik Levine

* 1960 in Los Angeles, USA

www.eriklevine.com

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Erik Levine

 

Erik Levine x

Still Lifes, 2016, 27:40 min., colour, sound [VIDEONALE.16]

A Latin American song plays over blurry images. At the beginning of Erik Levine’s film Still Lifes, we are overcome by a feeling of rapture. Almost as though we were gradually coming to our senses from a deep sleep, we begin to see the outlines of people going along a corridor. After a brief pause, the artist wordlessly invites us to contemplate his ›still lifes‹. Transposed into the role of curious observers, we wander through a retirement home in Argentina, where we are introduced to the residents. Sometimes we get so close to them that we feel uncomfortable – not least because the artist is confronting us with our own impermanence. At the beginning, the camera immediately draws our attention to the age-spotted face of a sleeping woman, still covered by a thin layer of makeup. This proximity, which initially seems almost shameless, gradually allows us to form an increasingly close bond with the film’s protagonists. For example, we watch sympathetically as an elderly woman tries repeatedly to open a locked door over the course of several minutes. These everyday scenes, immersed in sonic textures which sound both ethereal and familiar, are rhythmically interrupted by redundant sequences in which we observe the seniors watching television. We then see dream-sequence portraits of these individuals. These surreal scenes create an entirely new context, a microcosmos of the remembrance of times gone by. With Still Lifes, Levine has not only succeeded in depicting the process of human aging with empathy and aesthetic prowess; he has also created a film art work that is both sonically and visually highly varied and carefully structured, resembling a piece of classical music. (Milena Rosa Vasovic)

 

Erik Levine x

Cocker, 2010, 16:20 min., colour, sound [VIDEONALE.13]

In his work, Erik Levine focuses on the symbols and rituals of masculinity. He explores them as explicitly embodied in sports. After analyzing the norms of the more usual team sports in earlier works, in Cocker he attends to cockfighting. Levine leads us into a raw, masculine game of life and death, of power, pride and honor, played by men who cheer on their champions as if they were risking their own lives. In many places, cockfighting is banned, but in some countries it is still practiced and has a long tradition, like, for example, in Puerto Rico, where Cocker was filmed. For weeks, Levine visited different galleras, the places where the fighting cocks are raised. He didn’t just record the fighting itself: it’s more about the men and their relationship to the animals and about the rituals that evolve around raising the cockerels and preparing them to do battle. By reducing the pictures to single gestures, he impressively captures the intense relationship between man and bird. Levine’s shots don’t document or comment, rather they develop their own poetry between proximity and distance. The poetry not only communicates the fascination, but ultimately also the ‘otherness’ that strikes us when we peer into this archaic world. (Tasja Langenbach)

Erik Levine