Dana Levy ‘The Weight of Things’ at Fridman Gallery NYC
Dana Levy’s two-channel video installation The Weight of Things depicts the interiors of two rooms of the Palace of Versailles – the bedroom of Louis XIV and Salle de Constantine – in the midst of an earthquake. Taking 19th century etchings of the rooms as source material, Levy separates and animates the intricate details: sculptures, tiny wall moldings, picture frames, furniture, balustrades. One-by-one, the elements tremble and crumble to the floor, as if brought down by the thunderous raucous of the accompanying soundtrack. The lavish interiors, symbolic of absolute monarchy and military expansion, are thus reduced to heaps of rubble surrounded by starkly bared walls.
Levy edited the soundtrack from recordings of actual earthquakes, which (along with other natural disasters) disproportionately affect impoverished parts of the world. Installed in the basement media room of the gallery, the work is driven by low, subterraneous frequencies, physically affecting the viewer. Versailles, a western symbol of power, control and self- aggrandizement, is diminished within minutes by a momentary act of nature, culminating in a stunning moment of quiet, stillness and clarity. The work shakes us to the core, strips away the vanity of material possessions, and exposes the fragility of a world built on conspicuous consumption and inequity.