Sunday, September 21, 2008

Serge Levy

Serge Levy's work, Headshots, is a direct evolution of his core interest, street photography. Serge, a photojournalism teacher at ICP in Manhattan, embarked on street photography, among other reasons, in order to bring out the emotions he discovered in himself - without risking too much exposure. His current work is more daring, with him being the model.

We perceive an image to be an accurate and complete representation of reality, but doing so is an oversimplification, according to Serge. A single image can depict a fleeing emotion or a few facets of our personality - but it can't truly and wholly represent us as the complex, imperfect beings that we are.

In his process, Serge is dancing around self-search, one step forward, one step backwards. His multi-stage process is geared to create distance from the person being portrayed - himself. The initial shot creates the first degree of that "removal". The Polaroid transfer that follows creates the 2nd and 3rd degrees (a Polaroid is made of both a negative and a positive). The Polaroid is Xerox, creating the 4th degree, and then transferred to paper - and the 5th and final degree of separation is achieved. Distancing himself from the end result, he feels a little less exposed.

But then, Serge jumps into the Xerox transfer, painting back those missing emotions, the facets of personality that are hidden in the original shot.

Working very close to the images, Serge describes the process as eerie at times, much too close for comfort. He covers his own likeness on the print he's working on, to create a new surface on which he is then building the emotions and feeling that lie beneath the surface.

Even taking his self-portraits turned out to be a complex process for the professional photographer in him; trained to identify and capture the "decisive moment", acting as both the model and the photographer can be often confusing.

You can check out Serge's work here:

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