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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Lucy Levene

I have a Sofa Portrait up at the National Portrait Gallery for the Photographic Prize exhibition . It is a great place to exhibit but as usual the exhibition has that thrown together feel.

Part of the problem is there are so many images on similar themes sitting side by side, another is that documentary (Jonathan Torgovnik, Michelle Sank) is shown next to celebrity portraiture (Nadav Kander/Julia Fullerton-Batten), fashion-ish photography (Julieta Sans), personal work (Harry Borden/David Stewart) and up and coming photojournalism (Ivor Prickett).

As soon as you dig a little deeper though, things begin to emerge - the exhibition is a starting point. That's definitely the case with Lucy Levene's work. I first saw her series Marrying In, on potential Jewish partners for her, at the Hereford Photography Festival in 2004. Her wonderful prints of her standing with her potential partners were stuck in a busy corridor of an FE college in the Hereford boondocks. But there is something special about her world-weary pissed-offness and changing faces of her detached partners - openness, interest and disdain - set against a changing backdrop of British interiors. In her latest images, Matthew, Luke and Mark, she's holding hands with her partners in bedsit type rooms - maybe she's choosing her own partners, maybe she's moving out, who knows? Whatever, it's a very English series that combines layers of the cultural, religious and personal.

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