L.A. STORIES: Lucy Levene

14 October 2010 – 03 December 2010



511 GALLERY is pleased to announce L.A. Stories, an exhibition of photographs by young British artist Lucy Levene. In this most recent exhibition, which opens on Thursday, October 14th (with an opening reception from 6-8PM), the artist shows large c-prints captured during 2009, when she was living in California.


The artist, known for her ongoing interest in Realism, explores the boundaries of 'constructed photography' within a constructed-or 'fake'-space. The images are taken in and around Los Angeles, a landscape that is continually re-fictionalized through film. Using the tropes of constructed photography: the tableaux, the pictorially unified, enclosed space with no 'outside' suggested (as opposed to the fragmented, instantaneity of traditional documentary photography), Levene sought to "create an ambiguity of construction, a flat substance-less landscape of diversion and abstraction."


In Slavoj Žižek’s "Welcome to the Desert of the Real", the author describes a merging of 'real life' with film and media imagery. He discusses the virtualization of life, and products deprived of their substance: coffee without caffeine, alcohol-free beer, virtual sex, or war without casualties. "In late capitalist-consumerist society, 'real social life' somehow acquires the features of a staged fake, with our neighbors behaving in real life like stage actors and extras." In this way, the subjects of Levene's series seem simultaneously staged and authentic: one can easily detect the sterile nature of an impeccably manicured shrub, or the contrived perfection of a roadside attraction.


Lucy Levene was schooled at the Edinburgh College of Art, and later received her MFA from the Royal College of Art, London. She was awarded the Silver Prize at the London Photographic Awards 5, and was short-listed for New Contemporaries 2002 at the Barbican in London. Work from her last two series (Come and Be My Baby and Night Shift) was published as a photo-essay in Portfolio Magazine (November 2002), Spectum Magazine (July 2002), and was subsequently highlighted in reGeneration 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, published by Aperture Foundation in 2005. She has exhibited in the Project Room of The Collective Gallery in Edinburgh, the National Portrait Gallery (London), the Norton Museum of Art (Florida), and as part of the The Bienale Internationale de l'Image de Nancy (France). This is the artist's third solo-exhibition in New York.