New York

Les Levine

Fischbach Gallery

Les Levine’s Position occupied almost half of the downtown Fischbach Gallery, while selected video works, Bodyscape, an enormous aggregation of 150 photographs in six horizontal rows adding up to a full-length portrait of Levine “on its side,” and Landscape, another photographic work seemed to be there almost because a certain amount of space was left over from Position. Position is a sort of political art talent test. Photographs of windows were taken following certain rules regarding the place from which the photograph was made, such as standing as far to the right of the window as possible and on three dictionaries. The photographs are then blown up, cropped in accordance with the shape of the window, and mounted on the wall presumably at a height corresponding to the height of the actual window in the room. On the floor under the odd-shaped photographs of windows and at specified distances from the wall were the objects stood on or sat on when the pictures were taken: a step ladder, a square gray piece of board, a stack of three dictionaries, a toilet, lumber, etc. A line of tape on the floor enclosed the area with the instructions “Execute on this side of line” and “View from this side of line.” One executed by climbing the ladder, for example, until one reached the position from which one of the photographs had been taken, theoretically showing the relation of the ladder to the photograph and to the window; and metaphorically, “Points of view are relative to a ‘Position,’ i.e., in criticism you can only see from where you’re at.” On an adjacent wall were a complete set of the window photographs of smaller size, and the set of rules under which each of the photographs was made, and varying words of caution about trusting or thinking highly of anyone who could not identify the positions from which the pictures were taken.

“A physical position” does not mean in the same way as “a political position” or “a critical position,” nor does the assuming of a physical position imply metaphorically a political position. Here the question arises whether standing on the “viewing” side of the line constitutes a political or psychological position, and answers would have to be contingent on “points of view,” i.e., whether one subscribes to behaviorism, etc. However within Levine’s framework “The audience will execute the work by the ‘position’ they take whether they want to be performer, audience, artist or collector,” one cannot fail, if one enters the gallery, to take a position of some sort and execute the work. (Even not entering the gallery, in these terms, is taking a position and executing the work.) In these terms, one is executing whether one executes from the executing side of the line or views from the viewing side of the line; and in this sense, the audience does not have the choice of being audience or executing. Since everyone entering the gallery is Levine’s audience, and by entering the gallery one cannot fail to take a position and execute the work, therefore everyone inescapably takes the simultaneous positions of audience and executor, and the two positions are identical; the only difference between the two positions, ironically, is the difference of the positions from which they are considered.

––Bruce Boice