Hannah Levy “Surplus Tension” The Arts Club of Chicago

February 1, 2022

Hannah Levy’s precisely-rendered sculptures exist between the realms of danger and corporeality. Crafted of such evocative materials as steel and cast silicone, her forms at once evoke inanimate decor and sensual beings. In “Surplus Tension”, Levy departs from the specificities of the Arts Club’s Miesian aesthetic of shiny terrazzo, travertine cladding, or sumptuous silk and velvet drapery to reflect upon the underside of mid-century modern. She delves into the details of an architectural moment that is commonly held to be characterized by clean lines and white walls to find corset-like leather ties around tubular metal chairs or mirror surfaces in black marble akin to reflect pools. Levy further calls into question the gendering of that aesthetic by acknowledging the contributions of Mies’s longtime collaborator Lilly Reich, who early on used textile to inventively demarcate space as Mies did in his design for The Arts Club rooms. With hanging, pendulous works, grounded elements, and anthropomorphic details, Levy skirts the edges of risk to embody the gallery rooms from floor to ceiling.

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