Silvia Levenson

Good grudges

It seems that in Silvia Levenson’s world, everything revolves around an event, unbeknownst to us, something that belonged to her and will reflect itsef it her work, with time. There is a kind of dumb darkness, a grudge never concealed towards the conflicts within the family, the education or the feminine condition which is always present in her work. Happiness, at least in its basic form, as seen in advertisements or reviews is not only banished but also ridiculed and subverted. A family (the artist’s) smiles on the photos of an Argentina so close and yet so far. In these bits of memory autobiography is pain, worry, a search for rest rather than truth, for detachment from an obsessive thought, from a superfluous image. It seems that Levenson wants to move away from some form of herself she never really acknowledged. Her work is dedicated to self renaissance and cannot ignore the fact that one needs to face one’s memories to hate them properly.

Childhood also gets cut to pieces. The problems are not affections but their effects, if we want to play on words. Clothes become a sort of unbearable moral cilice. They are guilty of a crime not yet committed, they bear the unbearable rules. Everything suggests a painful dimension; pins, knives and other small weapons are not metaphors but symbols of the limits of what being a young girl means and symbols of its anarchy.

For many years, Silvia Levenson has displayed a world where bells can become alarms. It’s her sensibility, from yesterday and today, that holds her need to represent evil. What we call abstraction or absolutization doesn’t belong to her. Children don’t have so many places to sruvive unless they build a small glass boat to go out and sail, like Gordon Pym for instance. Thus evil is not absolute in itself, it is part of the Bildungsroman we have all experienced, some more desperately than others and with a greater sense of suffocation. Levenson’s pains join the great crowd of other – literary mostly – pains, from the young Werther to Musil’s young Torless and Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kroger. When she was young, the artist fought in a cruel and dangerous world and she still does. The middle-class resents the feelings of those who wish to build a new world on the ruins of the old one. Childhood never ends and at the same time, one is a woman for life, even in marriage.

Thus the materials she chooses are always magical and transparent like an enchanted night. There is something of a fairy tale in her poetics, but danger is never far. You can’t relax, even looking can harm you. The transparence of glass hardly suggests that you can look further. It actually suggests both fragility and danger. You can see through but it could also break at any time and harm you. And glass is very fragile, a cry is enough to break it. Children are always at risk; their minds are not as strong as their bodies. Survival instinct can do its job, but psychological wounds don’t heal easily.

Her incursions into fashion didn’t go unnoticed: glass purses with knives, sharp clothes, other purses where the word “love” is written besides razor blades or a “Touch Me” petticoat becoming a sado-maso trap. Of course, the artist’s irony is at work but the context is pitiless.


She seems to remember titles of famous books such as “La famiglia che uccide” (The murder family) by Morton Schatzman, a classic of anti-psychiatry from the 70’s, precisely because it expressed the dangers of feelings: real double-edged weapons. Siliva Levenson creates her own originality and poetics among artists who have learnt do give shape to this closed world of good intentions. Love is full of good intentions, love between parents and children, man and woman. The problem is not only time but also selfishness and its ability to discover and acknowledge the other. This double link constitutes life’s cilice that can make us smile sometimes, but builds in us invisible prisons from which you can never escape. 

Come utilizziamo i cookies?

Utilizziamo i cookie per offrirti la migliore esperienza di navigazione possibile. Procedendo ad utilizzare il sito, anche rimanendo in questa pagina, acconsenti all'uso dei cookie. Se desideri disattivare i cookies, leggi la nostra politica in materia di cookie. Ti segnaliamo che alcune parti del sito potrebbero non funzionare correttamente se si disattivano tutti i cookie.