Mikael Levin

(1954) American


Born in New York City, Mikael Levin grew up in Israel, the United States and France. He attended Williams College and received a B.A. in Film and Photography from Hampshire College in 1976 before studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Levin's first published project was Silent Passage (1985), a series of romantic, reflective landscape photographs inspired by a pond in Sweden. This was followed by several other series, including Les Quatre Saisons du Territoire, a study of the changes in land use in western France; Borders, which focused on the political, practical, and conceptual transformation of national borders in contemporary Europe; and War Story, Levin's reconstruction of the journey his father, the war correspondent Meyer Levin, made while traveling with the photographer Eric Schwab during World War II. Meyer Levin wrote of these experiences in In Search (1950), which described his view of the final battles of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in 1944-45. Levin photographed sites his father and Schwab had visited as they appear today. These photographs and passages from the elder Levin's writings formed an installation work at ICP in 1997, and were also published as a book. Levin's most recent project, Common Places: Cultural Identity in the Urban Environment, considers the relationship between the past and present in the urban environments of four European cities: Katrineholm, Cambrai, Erfurt, and Thessaloniki.
Although inflected differently in each series, Mikael Levin's photographs have in common their interest in the emotional, intellectual, and historical significance of landscape. His work ignites landscape's capacity simultaneously to recall and overwrite the events of the past, especially in works such as War Story and Common Places. His photographs represent a new approach to landscape photography that reinvigorates this traditional genre.
Lisa Hostetler
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 220.
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