Hannah Levy’s sculptures of chromed steel and silicone bring together hard and shiny, and soft and squishy textures to explore the visceral tension between bodies and objects. Levy welds the forms herself before they are sent out to be electromagnetically chromed, enacting a process in which tangible labor is obscured by the gleaming power of industry. Working from the languages of industrial design, her objects evade the functionality and ostensible neutrality of that discipline to evoke the fragility, strength, and uncanniness of inhabiting a body.
For her MATRIX 279 presentation, Levy shows a combination of new works produced for the exhibition and recent works made in response to the Mies van der Rohe modernist architecture of the Arts Club of Chicago. Together, they highlight the recent fetishization of modernist design and the idealization that shapes our relationship to these objects and spaces as much as the bodies that utilize them. Corsetry details and birdlike claws literally push and pull on snakeskin-patterned silicone to create tenuous skins. The resulting tension unsettles the clean lines of the sculptures’ shiny armlike supports, inserting a feminist critique that exposes the way rigid structures squeeze and stretch anything that doesn’t confirm to their ideal.