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Dutch artist Levi van Veluw produces multi-disciplinary works including photographs, videos, sculptures, installations and drawings. While studying at the Institute of the Arts in Arnhem, van Veluw produced dozens of photographic self-portraits; by using himself as a subject, he felt more able to experiment freely and at length. The resulting series ‘Portraits’ shows the artist modifying his face through the use of various commonplace materials, including wood, gravel, tape and moss. Created as a series of experiments, the portraits shift the values of the materials used, by transferring them into a completely new context. In ‘Natural Transfers’ he uses human hair, and the resulting portraits are primal, animalistic and perhaps the most eerie of all.

Levi Van Veluw black Natural Transfer
Natural Transfer I

How is hair represented in ‘Natural Transfers’?
This series of work originates from the idea of transforming the face, through the use of a material that is already present, rather than using an external element. Simply applying hair to the contours of the head transforms the portrait and the associations conjured up by the materials themselves. Hair becomes a strange and macabre material with a claustrophobic effect, rather than an aspect of human beauty.

Levi Van Veluw blonde Transfer
Natural Transfer II

What was your experience of working with hair as a medium?
It’s weird because hair is so common and natural, but if you use it for another purpose it becomes a macabre material. It felt a bit disturbing to see the transformation of the face. In the resulting photograph it looks even more strange because you just see the head without the body. The hair becomes alienated from the human.

What is your intention for the work?  How do you want the viewer to feel?
It was interesting to change the value and associations of the hair. The transformation is much stronger here than when I used a material that was not part of the body. It’s interesting that things that are so familiar to us can change dramatically just by altering the context.

Levi Van Veluw light brown Natural Transfer
Natural Transfer III
“Hair is so common and natural, but if you use it for another purpose it becomes a macabre material”
Levi van Veluw

Interview Emma de Clercq
Images courtesy of Levi van Veluw Website

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