Vox Populi: Dan Levenson, SKZ Student Monochrome Workshop

SKZ Student Monochrome Workshop

Showing until December 31

By Emily Orrson


For the month of December, Vox Populi plays host to fictional narrative, framed abstraction, and the bizarrely literal. The absurdity ranges—it is as subtle as Dan Levenson’s own black frame glasses photoshopped onto figures in a magazine, or Michael van Winkle’s juxtaposition of still lifes and skulls. It is as drastic as Todd Baldwin’s physical reconfiguration of gallery walls, or Michael May’s paintings featuring a schizoid experimenter’s forays into an unsolved problem of mathematics, Goldbach’s Conjecture, among other things.


Dan Levenson’s installation, SKZ Student Monochrome Workshop, is especially thought provoking. The installation features a fictional Swiss art school: its students, their work, and a graduate speaking on video. But there is something amiss here. Black monochrome paintings—the students’ final projects—line the walls; copies of “Art Student Life” feature photographs of students from the 20’s, 50’s, and 60’s; yet the works are all dated 1995. Levenson grounds his fiction in the scientific, the numeric, and the concrete. Each painting is sized at 20A, 32 times the size of an international standard sheet of A4 office paper with the same ratio of 1: √2—the “silver ratio.” The math seems to be just a handle for the viewer, something to hold onto within this fictional journey. From there, we are whisked into the untranslated and the unexplained, to find Levenson riffing on and against a strict modernist standard.


Emily Orrson is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania