Judith G. Levy
I create art that focuses on American public history, popular culture and my own identity. My videos, prints, photographs, performances and installations explore how stories, memories and legacies are created and examine the charged content that exists between the lines. I often blend fiction and fact to illustrate how the threads of individual, cultural and national narratives rely upon fabrication, omission, and mistakes as they become accepted constructs of informal and formal history.

In my current photograph and video work, I create composite images from visual elements digitally extracted from Noir and World War II films t I first saw on television as a child/adolescent growing up in the suburbs of New York City. I am using my I-phone to photograph the way my eyes view details of scenes, as I watch them move across the screen. I then produce hundreds of 4 x 6 inch prints that I use to create photographic collages whose composite images are comprised of details from many different films of both genres. These new photographs embrace the romanticization of violence, power and destruction that exists in both Noir and World War Two films as well as in contemporary politics, culture and identity. I am interested in expanding the idea of a movie still to explore my own queer persona and my queer gaze as I create images that include narrative and abstract content.

My work uses familiar imagery and recognizable references, appropriation, and commonplace text and objects to create work that examines subjects such as racism, the expansion of the American West, and non-hetero-normative identity. Creating work that is complex but easily accessible is important to me. My work is influenced by my own queerness, by my former experiences as a social worker and community-organizer and by the struggles faced by my immigrant grandparents who had an endless capacity to question authority.

To create work that usurps conventional understandings, I frequently use
humor, alternative narratives, the suspension of disbelief, and assemblage to synthesize ideas and layer meaning. I simultaneously debunk established concepts and create new ones, so that they exist to create disturbing junctures that must be negotiated. Creating these upheavals often requires me to mimic the way history is taught, how souvenirs are created, how family stories are shared, and how personas are presented, while at the same time inserting challenges to these narratives that resemble their sources enough to be believed. I’m interested in creating new considerations and provocations, as I ask the audience to re-examine familiar concepts and accounts.