“I can’t get out of the bath tub, I really needed to rupture” says Kate over the phone. Since it has been an intense couple of weeks and months and even years of hard work and installation for the unstoppable Kate Levy; relaxed in her bath tub on the other side of the line was the perfect time I got to talk to her about her ground-breaking MFA Thesis Exhibition All I have is this Shovel – now showing at the ICP-Bard MFA Studios: 24-20 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, 3rd Floor (EM7G to Court Square).
As you enter the gallery, you are instantly drawn to the detailed installation, or should I say construction, of a multi layered and multi faceted, multi media exhibition. The installation consists of different scaled photographs, videos, sound, photograph wallpapered walls, stories and text; accompanied with beautiful small encountered surprises that make you smile or even laugh out loud form time to time. The amazing play on the space, floor, distance, and scale, only draw you more into a world within Kate’s intellectual and intriguing mind.
Kate touches on broader themes such as climate change, fossil fuel, humanity, identity, connection and construction; counter imposing them with inversions, photographic throwbacks and beautiful simplicity compositions. All this in small space with an overwhelming amount of work, that make us feel a sort of discomfort, stagnant pleasure that leaves you thinking or should I say digging for more, long after you leave the gallery.
Kate is fascinated with Futurism and the counter opposing things in life that exist together. In All I have is this Shovel, she explores the idea of construction, deconstruction and the discomfort of existing within the world: “My work comes from a deep sense of doom I feel everyday, and dealing with that criterion is why I do work – where I find joy and pleasure in even the tiniest things. That is what my work is about, coexistence and contradiction – It is a deep futility existing in the world today, and my response is just to produce, produce, produce. Production for production sake – it gives me a better understanding of the things that I hold on to”.
The way Kate internalizes the world is by making photographs, She says it is the way she can feel integrated into the world. “I feel healthy when I take pictures, I need to take pictures to feel OK. It was really the best part of making the work”. In this thesis exhibition she uses the shovel as a metaphor of this futile tool; and specifically for Kate Levy, the shovel is her camera – her digging device. “It is how I ground myself in some sort of accuracy, or the inexistence of it”.