WITHOUT YOU I’M NOTHING
solo exhibition at Garis & Hahn, NYC
Oct 10 – Nov 15, 2014
Garis & Hahn is pleased to present Without You I’m Nothing, artist Julien Levy’s first solo exhibition in New York City. The exhibition will include four new short films, a new photography series shot in Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan, as well as the artist’s Tiny Pretty Things series of « microphotography, » portraits so small they require a magnifying glass to view, and a limited edition booklet that functions as a dual exhibition catalog and artwork for the show. There will be an opening reception at Garis & Hahn (263 Bowery, New York, NY 10002) from 6:00 to 9:00 PM on October 9th, and the exhibition will run from October 10th to November 15th.
Central to Without You I’m Nothing are Levy’s intimate and arresting works that underscore the exhibition’s title as they lay bare the network of relationships-artist and muse, artist and collector, performer and audience-that ‘make’ the artist, and in whose absence, would leave him nothing.
Included in the exhibition is Levy’s recent film series, All We Have Is Now. Chapter 1 of the series, « A Summer Violence, » recently premiered at the artist’s exhibition Beauty is You, Chaos is Me at the Chanel Nexus Hall in Tokyo and stars Kiko Mizuhara, a model/singer/actress and designated ‘It’ girl renowned throughout Japan. The 15-minute film focuses on a single scene in which Mizuhara looks into the camera and engages in a callous breakup in Japanese (subtitled in English), with the viewer on the receiving end of this dismissal. Levy will also début Chapter 2 in the series, « A Fall Violence, » at Garis & Hahn, starring UK-based model Lydia Graham in a similar breakup scenario. Along with « Without You I’m Nothing, » featuring American-born model Ashley Smith projected in the gallery’s front window, and another room-sized installation featuring the video « From there all I can hear is the batting of your eyelashes » with Spanish actress Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, the films instill an unmitigated sense of intimacy and vulnerability in which uncensored dialogue and physical gestures culminate in brutal honesty.
Julien Levy uses the films to aggressively explore both the power and consequences of conventional beauty in capitalizing on the success and fame of actresses, models, musicians, artists, et al., ultimately empowering the artist’s pretty female characters by way of cruel, ugly speech. He admittedly doesn’t subscribe to the notion of one « objective » form of beauty, and instead aims to use his art as a means of analyzing and subverting these ideals perpetuated by marketing and entertainment. The artist furthers these concepts via techniques that include deliberately damaging or sabotaging the film he uses for photography (i.e., subjecting the material to extremely hot or cold conditions or the radiation of x-rays) and placing 1 x 1 inch photos into elaborate, oversized mattes and frames, a bizarre confluence of form and presentation, as in his Tiny Pretty Things series, wherein a viewer must be equipped with a magnifying glass to study the subject of each portrait. Interactive storytelling and intimacy lie at the heart of Levy’s art, whether that means layering the reading of his photography with text that uses incendiary or riotous vocabulary, or executing his works to minuscule dimensions. These gestures aren’t intended to confuse or antagonize the viewer, but rather to intensify their perceptions and make them to feel as though they, too, are an integral component of each piece. In this manner, Levy has consciously been avoiding the more obtuse nature of conceptual work in favor of charming his audiences with visceral tales of love and relationships.