United Kingdom

Lucy Levene



Lucy Levene is a London based artist who completed her MA at the RCA in 2004. Publications include 'Regeneration; 50 Photographers of Tomorrow' (Thames & Hudson) and 'In Our World, New Photography in Britain' (Skira). Her work has been featured in magazines and blogs such as ‘The New Yorker’, ‘Hotshoe’, ‘Portfolio Magazine’, and ‘The Guardian’. Editorially she has produced work for the Saturday Telegraph Magazine, The Guardian Weekend Magazine and the Sunday Times Magazine. In 2012 she was selected as a winner both of Magenta’s Flash Forward award and of the inaugural 1000 Words Photography prize for European Photographers.

‘My work explores the boundaries of documentary and conceptual photography. Using flash and it’s blanket reveal, I attempt some form of objective democracy. I am interested in Brechtian ideas which foreground the means of construction, and in the subsequent slippage between documentary and artifice within photography. I use photography to question the narratives that we construct daily. As a third generation British Jew, my main interest in terms of subject matter is in assimilation; in communities and how they define themselves.’


The Spaghetti Tree

The Italian communities of Bedford & Peterborough formed in the 1950s as men were recruited from Southern Italy to supplement labour shortages in the local Brick industry. These photos were taken between February 2013 and 2014 at Italian community events in both Bedford & Peterborough.

I began this project during a period of personal loss; family illness, death and litigation. During this time, ties to my own Jewish community, were lessening. I was drawn to these communities. I felt nostalgic; homesick even.

As an outsider, I took up the position of community photographer; attending events and providing portraits as mementos. I was interested in demonstrations of ‘community’ and of ‘family’ being played out in front of the camera.

The series consists of 45 images, within which the repetition of particular people, themes and motifs aims to draw attention to the means of construction as well as to the passing of time.

This work pulls together strands from my previous work, mixing documentary with performance and construction and experimenting with various levels of control and direction. I became interested in the tensions between public and private, formal and informal and in how these disparities relate to construction and accident within photography; the perfect and the imperfect image.


Marrying-in (Please God by You)

Marrying-in (Please God by You) explores the pressure on young people within the Jewish community to marry someone Jewish. Like myself, the boys in the photographs are Jewish. They are photographed in their own living rooms and bedrooms.

In my family (as in many less-orthodox families), the reasons for such expectations are rooted in a desire to preserve traditions and culture and in a belief that people from similar cultural backgrounds stand a better chance of a successful marriage; they are cultural rather than religious.

Without specific beliefs, the desire to marry someone Jewish is unfounded. Looking for a partner within this parameter becomes a contrived and pragmatic process. In a multicultural society the need to preserve cultural individualities is at odds with the need to assimilate. My generation is left in-between, in the bizarre compromises illustrated here.