Levine, Erik.

*1960 in Los Angeles, California
lebt und arbeitet in New York and Boston
Assistenz Professor and der University of Massachusetts Boston.


Ausstellungen [Auswahl]:

2010 Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California
2007 Space Other, Boston, Massachusetts
1999 Galerie Georges-Philippe and Nathalie Vallois, Paris, France
1998 Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, D
1996 Galerie Bernd Klüser, München, D
Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München, D


Date: 2010
Length: 16:20 min.
Format:  HD Video
Specification: Colour, Sound


Es sind Zeichen und Rituale der Männlichkeit, die Erik Levine in seinen Arbeiten zu verdichten sucht. Besonders explizit verkörpert findet er diese im Sport. Während er in früheren Arbeiten vorrangig den Habitus gängiger Mannschaftssportarten analysierte, widmet er sich in „Cocker“ dem Sport des Hahnenkampfes. Levine führt uns ein in ein urtümliches maskulines Spiel um Leben und Tod, um Kraft, Stolz und Würde, gespielt von Männern, die ihre Kämpfer anfeuern, als ginge es um ihr eigenes Leben. Vielerorts verboten, wird der Hahnenkampf in einigen Ländern – wie in Puerto Rico, wo die Aufnahmen zu „Cocker“ entstanden – weiter praktiziert und blickt auf eine lange Tradition zurück. Levine hat über viele Wochen verschiedene „galleras“, in denen die Hähne herangezogen werden, besucht. Dabei hat er nicht allein das Treiben um den Kampf selbst, sondern vielmehr die Männer, ihr Verhältnis zu ihren Tieren und die Rituale, die sich um deren Aufzucht und Vorbereitung auf die Kämpfe entfalten, festgehalten. Reduziert auf Bilder einzelner Gesten, zeichnet er eindrücklich die innige Beziehung zwischen Mann und Tier nach. Levines Bilder dokumentieren nicht und beziehen keine Position, sondern entwickeln zwischen Nähe und Distanz ihre ganz eigene Poetik, die nicht nur die Faszination, sondern am Ende auch das Befremden vermittelt, das uns beim Blick auf diese oft archaisch anmutende Welt überkommt. 




► 1. Your video has been chosen among over 1700 festival entries to participate in Videonale 13. How central is the video medium to your overall artistic production? Is it complimentary to other media you use or do you work exclusively with video?


Video has been my primary medium and central to my artistic production for several years now. I came to it after making sculptures and drawings for more than 20 years.

► 2. Is there a particular theme, concept or problem your art addresses the most?


My video work has centered on maleness; how it is acted out, embodied, perpetuated, and personified. I continue my investigation and exploration into the male character and psyche. I record and manipulate men’s spoken and body language, gestures, posture, and mannerisms, transforming them into video works of art. In previous pieces I have used both my own personal history and the public stage and spectacle of sporting events as a vehicle and forum to investigate very private and personal conflict, tension, internal strife, and how masculine behavior is passed down from one generation to the next.


► 3. What artists do you relate to or find significant for your own art-making?


There are many artists whose work I admire and respect. They include visual artists, filmmakers, and writers, among others. I particularly appreciate those with a distinct and personal vision.


► 4. Do you think the video medium can address social or political issues better than other art media?


Yes. I think that the moving image can document and address social and political issues better than other media because of its inherent ability to record and depict reality and also transform it. The medium can be used as a blunt recording tool and offer a stark view of the world or illuminate and reveal aspects of us that are usually hidden from view.


► 5. Art can be seen as a mirror that registers and reflects life or as a tool that transforms it. Which of the two positions is close to your own art-making philosophy?


I believe that art must be integrated with daily life. In my work I shoot actual situations, not staged or choreographed events. My raw material comes from reality and transforms documentary images into works of art. I don’t rely on actors performing under my direction, but capture live events instead of scripting them. My video-making processes have evolved towards a methodology that uses the camera as a recording tool for acquiring images that I then use to construct, collage, transform, and manipulate through various video-editing processes.

I believe that art is a fun house mirror where elements of the truth exist but change and morph into something not specifically defined. Art is a parallel language that illuminates readily visible aspects of life and behavior, and gives voice to things that we don’t know and can’t quite understand. In sum, reality is stranger, and more perverse, than what one can imagine.


► 6. How do you understand success in an art-making career?


I define success as having the opportunity to make my work, receiving support and affirmation from my peers, and sharing it with an audience. The reward is in the process of doing it, as terrifying and uncomfortable as it usually is.

► 7. What is the most difficult and the most rewarding thing about making art/ being an artist?


The most difficult thing about being an artist is the doubt and anxiety that comes with making art. They are the fuel that propels the process along and the obstructions that impede it. And, they are almost always present. I often feel as if I am a detective looking for clues at the scene of the crime, trying to piece together an ambiguous story that in the end does not add up to the sum of its parts. I also usually spend several years working on a single work and invest everything that I have in each of them, which adds to the pressure that I put upon myself with every work that I produce.

► 8. What are your upcoming projects?


I am currently working on a piece entitled Post Time. It will be a single channel High Definition video about emptiness, loss, solitude, loneliness, and desolation using the setting and backdrop of a racetrack. Shot at Belmont Park in Queens, New York over a four-year period, it will focus on the atmosphere, expressions, body language, community and behavior of the men gambling there.


► 9. What do you do when you don't make art?


I am a University professor and I teach when I am not making art. I also go to galleries and museums and look at a lot of films. And, I spend time with my girlfriend and son.


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