EVERGLADES

2015

Single Channel Video 2015 06:50 min

Everglades was created during Levy’s latest residency, in Everglades National Park in Florida, which – according to the US National Park Services – is “the only subtropical wilderness in North America.” Recently, this precious ecosystem, which had already known the devastating effects of wetland drainage for industrial and residential development in the last century, has been facing the new threat of acidification – the use of acids for oil drilling, which jeopardizes public health and the environment.5 At nighttime, Levy (wearing a mosquito net body suit) went out to the humid, insect-filled undergrowth to shoot her temporary natural habitat while color effects were cast onto the landscape from a projector held by her assistant. The resulting abstract piece is a nature film gone wild. No real event takes place during those nights in Everglades Park, apart from the apocalyptic disaster Levy created by means of sound- and image-sampling projected onto serene flora. Her soundtrack starts with the natural noise of insects that – even if unpleasing to some of us – are part of this particular ecosystem. Then the sounds of other (nonhuman) living beings intermingle with the mechanical noise of fracking, helicopters, and electric power stations. The combination of all these sounds amplifies our fear of an unknown, lurking catastrophe. The phosphorescent colors and light patterns that cover the plants immediately designate them as artificial and toxic. Black clouds sweep over the scene, suggesting the shadows of enormous flying objects. Although both the photographer and her photographed subject are nearly motionless, everything seems to be moving in all directions at once. The constantly changing montage of distant forest and close branches intensifies the uncanny impossibility of identifying the camera with a human point of view. Instead of the subtle movement of a living organism enclosed in a static, archaic institution, Levy now offers synthetic computed movement piercing a stagnant natural setting. Towards the end, the abrasive cacophony of sound softens, lending the illusion of a quiet ending, only to swell to a deafening explosion. Nature, even what we still call a natural “wilderness,” becomes a totally designed, constructed environment which disintegrates before our eyes in a sort of spectacle that is simultaneously magnificent and bleak.

  • Noam Gal Curator at The Israel Museum