Campbell House Project (Parlor Room)


Video Projection on to Wallpaper reproduction print of 1885 photograph

Levy focused on the histories embedded in domestic space and its preservation. The Campbell House was the private residence of St. Louis fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell

For Campbell House Project, Levy used two 1885 photographs of the home’s interiors—the parlor and Robert Campbell’s bedroom. In this multimedia work, videos are projected onto prints made from the photographs. Levy printed the photograph of Robert Campbell’s bedroom at an intimate scale and had it framed as if it was hanging in a domestic setting. The photograph of the parlor is printed at near life size and installed as a wallpaper.

In the videos projected onto the prints, Levy inhabits the same bedroom and parlor, which are currently preserved as part of the house museum. She fades in and out of the interior spaces as she moves around the rooms and interacts with the furnishings. With the permission and supervision of the museum staff, Levy sat on the furniture, touched the wallpaper, lamps, and curtains, and lay on Robert Campbell’s bed. The underlying prints show that the objects she engages with in the present-day video have remained in place since before 1885. This simple gesture of overlaying the past and the present animates the history of the rooms while drawing attention to their preservation and connecting us with these long-departed figures of St. Louis history.

The preservation of the Campbell House is an important aspect of the work. The site is one of the most fastidiously preserved Victorian houses in the United States due to the efforts of committed St. Louis residents in the 1940s. Levy’s work explores how people relate to both historical and imagined narratives connected to interior spaces. As her ghostlike presence moves in the space 134 years after the photographs were taken, viewers see how architecture can be activated through both the presence and absence of humans.  – Hannah Klemm curator St Louis Art Museum

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