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Les Levine’s Exhibition at the IMMA

The Troubles An Artist’s Document of Ulster

Les Levine’s Exhibition at the IMMA

For all the media and photography enthusiasts there will be an exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art show casing Les Levine’s Collection Using the Camera as a Club – Media Projects and Archive from the 19th November 2015 to the 17th January 2016.  Les Levine is a media sculptor, photographer and artist born in Dublin in 1935.

Levine is the godfather of Media Art and was the first to use video tape for his artistry. He also introduced terms like disposable art, software art and camera art. His is an artist that uses different mediums and his works include painting, installation, mail art, artist’s books, sculpture and performance work.

Levine has been living in New York since the early 60’s, but his art has travelled much further. He has had over 100 shows in museums in Australia, Europe, South America and United States. He works closely with the media and uses technology and information media in many of his work.

He pioneered the idea of using art as a sociological tool for addressing real concerns of interest to the public. From this idea were born two very successful shows, one in 1973 called The Troubles: An Artist’s Document of Ulster and I Am Not Blind: An Informational environment About Unsighted People in 1976.

About the The Troubles Levine said to IMMA in interview, “It deals with every aspect of the situation. It goes into Catholic homes, Protestant homes, churches, funerals, explosions… My approach was to take it from the human point of view, not the political. So in all cases, I tried to show the people involved and to evoke some state of mind that they were representing in the photo. I avoided taking sides or showing bias. I think the photos tell their own extraordinary story…”

“At the opening of the 1973 installation of The Troubles in New York, someone came up to me and said, ‘It’s not art. It’s too real.’ And I took the comment to mean the inverse, implying that art is not real, but this is real.”

“I am interested in using media to effect change and understanding of our environment. I want to consider media as a natural resource and to mould media the way others would mould matter. In the case of The Troubles I was forced to ask myself, are the political problems of a society a valid concern for art? The answer was ‘Yes, of course…’”

In 1974 Les took Northern Landscapes and We Are Still Alive to various museums in North America and Europe. He has also donated works to galleries and museums in Canada, Ontario, New York, Washing D.C., Paris and Australia’s Melbourne and Sydney.

Journalists and writers love interviewing and featuring Levine in articles and books. His has appeared in Time Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Life Magazine, The Britannica Encyclopaedia of American Art by Simon Shuster and in Science and Technology in the Arts by Stewart Kranz.

The exhibition will present a group of one of its kind cibachrome photographs of media billboard campaigns that were put on in the 80’s and the 90’s  in Dublin, Los Angeles, London, Belgium, New York, Dortmund and Stuggart.

The “Blame God” billboard campaign shows images of the troubles in Northern Ireland and was running in Dublin in the 90’s. It featured photos from Levine’s earlier work on The Troubles addressing social and political issues through mass advertisement. Levine’s work featured in 35 campaigns from 1976 – 2004 like these across the world.

There will also be works from The Troubles consisting of 80 pieces of photographic work, his 1979 show Using the Camera as Club and Group Shows Cut Up the Group from 1989. Levine has given the IMMA a loan from his personal archive for the exhibition. This archive includes 44 announcement cards and a photographic documentation of his earlier projects like Slipcover (1966), Disposables (1966) and The Museum of Mottart (1972).

And as a final treat The Self Express interviews will be available to be viewed in the gallery and online.  The exhibition opens to the public on the 19th November.

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