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KITCHEN, a new animation by New-York based artist, Michael Siporin Levine, begins with familiar sounds: the drag of a drawer being pulled opened, the clinking of silverware, the tines of a fork against a plate, the whir of water pouring from a faucet. Each piece of audio is a distinct reminder of the everyday activities of quarantine life - dishes and more dishes, eating and then eating again. Abstract images, painted and inked up plastic film, move around the screen in a stop-motion collage of elements, sometimes forming a familiar shape - a knife edge, a mouth, a raised eyebrow. “As I worked on the video, I had different ideas for imagery that all related to my day-to-day life in quarantine, but I didn't think too much about each concept before attempting the animation,” Levine explains. Instead, the process of its making becomes the content as Levine dictates the narrative of the project to his girlfriend over a series of Facetime calls that are woven throughout the video.
Once the stay-at-home-order was put into place in New York, Levine’s day job as an art handler was put on hold. His girlfriend, a personal chef, went to Long Island to quarantine with a family she works for. Levine moved into his girlfriend’s larger, empty apartment in Brooklyn. Out of work and stuck inside, he started playing around, working at her kitchen table. Noticing the good light in her apartment, he taped different abstract scenes to the kitchen window that overlooks the fire escape, taking photographs with his iPhone with each iteration: “The color looked luminous and I liked how I could layer pieces of the plastic film on top of each other to create other color combinations.” Working quickly and intuitively, Levine allowed the cut-out shapes to remain clunky, leaving evidence of its making by revealing sections of tape or a piece of plastic hanging from a fishing line.
What results from the eight-minute video is both a very straightforward and poetic response to living in quarantine during the time of Covid. It examines the mundane acts and sounds from these past weeks which have now become familiar to so many of us - the strange echoed audio from teleconferencing, the unemployment messaging service, a mom’s recipe for matzo ball soup for a social distanced Seder - all amidst a glow of moving shapes and colors. A minute meditation on what we’ve been told we can do to survive and save those we love during a pandemic, stay at home. And for Levine, make art.
- Katie Geha, Director, Dodd Galleries
Michael Siporin Levine lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He was most recently an Artist in Resident at Goggleworks Center for the Arts in Reading, PA, where he completed large scale prints, collages, and a video for a three-person exhibition (August 2019). In the spring of 2019 Levine was a Visiting Artist and Professor at Wesleyan College in Macon, GA, where he taught undergraduate courses as he completed work for a solo exhibition, (“Green Screen” ). Other recent notable exhibitions, residencies, and awards include a four person exhibition at Art Space Hartford (2019, Hartford, CT), a residency and solo exhibition at Galeria Wschodnia (2018, Łódź, Poland), a three person show at Grizzly Grizzly (2018, Philadelphia, PA), 2017 Counterproof Press Visiting Artist in Resident (January 2017, University of Connecticut), a summer residency at Vermont Studio Center (2017, Johnson, VT), a solo exhibition and artist in residence position at Knox College (2016 Galesburg, IL), and in 2016 he was the Printmaking Fellow at the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY.
Levine received his MFA from the Lamar Dodd School of Art (University of Georgia, 2014), and his BFA from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut (2011). He has taught studio art courses at Wesleyan College, the University of Connecticut, Knox College, Georgia College State University, and the University of Georgia.