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August 10, 2022–January 8, 2023
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will host Hannah Levy’s first West Coast museum exhibition of her work, which examines the visceral tension between flesh and metal through her steel-and-silicone sculptures. Six recent sculptures by Hannah Levy will be on display in the exhibition Hannah Levy / MATRIX 279, including a significant new piece that will be shown at BAMPFA for the first time. Levy’s solo museum debut is the most recent iteration of the MATRIX Program at BAMPFA, a cutting-edge exhibition series that has featured distinctive and significant voices in contemporary art for the past 40 years. It complements a parallel display at this year’s Venice Biennale.
Levy’s collection of work lies at the nexus of industrial production, Modernist design, and nightmarish futurism. She is renowned for her evocative integrations of dazzling metal with squishy facsimiles of human and non-human flesh. The artist hand-welds skeletal steel frames using instinct rather than previous representations. In Levy’s work, thin silicone surfaces are frequently flimsily stretched across unyielding metal frameworks, like in the case of a claw-armed chandelier covered in elaborate corsetry that resembles skin. A collection of sculptures created by Levy for her MATRIX exhibition are in reaction to the Mies van der Rohe design of the Arts Club of Chicago, where her work was first displayed in 2021. Accompanying these five works, Levy has created a new sculpture specifically for the BAMPFA presentation, which includes a glass component for the first time in the artist’s practice.
The 31-year-old Levy, who was born and raised in New York City, has taken part in group exhibitions throughout Europe, Asia, and the US. Other prominent recent projects have included a commissioned work for the High Line in New York City and a solo exhibition at Casey Kaplan gallery in 2020 that The New York Times termed “compelling” and “genuinely perspective altering.” Her display at the Venice Biennale is still ongoing. Later this year, her work will be displayed in France at the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art. Currently, 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone, a group exhibition, is on display at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut.
“Hannah Levy’s work evades the functionality and ostensible neutrality of industrial design to evoke the fragility, strength, and uncanniness of inhabiting a body,” said BAMPFA Curatorial Assistant Claire Frost, who coordinated the MATRIX exhibition. “The dynamic tension that emerges from the interplay between her steel and silicone materials suggests a feminist critique that exposes the way rigid structures squeeze and stretch anything that doesn’t conform to its ideals.”
On Wednesday, August 10, at 6 p.m., BAMPFA will offer an artist lecture in connection with Hannah Levy / MATRIX 279. Rhonda Holberton, an assistant professor of digital media at San Jose State University and a working artist who has shown her work, among other places, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, will participate in the discussion with Levy. Later this summer, more programming will be revealed; for the most recent information, go to bampfa.org.
Hannah Levy / MATRIX 279 was conceived by former BAMPFA curator Apsara DiQuinzio. It is organized by BAMPFA staff and coordinated by Claire Frost, curatorial assistant. The MATRIX program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis. Special thanks to the Arts Club of Chicago and Executive Director Janine Mileaf for their collaboration on this exhibition.
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
2155 Center Street
Berkeley, CA 94720