Morgan Levy: With a Finger She Guided My Eye Along the Rift in the Roc

Published on 11/26/2020

Morgan Levy's work was selected from the Open Call 'Class of 2020' held by In the In-Between this summer which focused on graduating photo students who had their final exhibitions de-railed by the onset of the pandemic.

There is a round, warm metallic clang when a hammer meets a wedge.

This pulse of metal on metal you feel in your bones.

As the sound softens slowly, you listen for the quiet crack in the rock to grow.

It was happenstance that last autumn I met a woman who cuts stone. As I watched her drive the steel wedge into a crevasse of a rock, the thought occurred to me that prior to our meeting, the image of a woman working with stone was something I’d never seen. She understood the rarity of that image first hand. It was one she remade for herself everyday, sometimes hiding her braid under her hardhat.
We decided, together, to fix it into a photograph.

The series With a Finger She Guided My Eye Along the Rift in the Rock, is a fictional narrative that unfolds against the backdrop of a quarry-like landscape. Two intertwined characters appear throughout the series, a photographer and a quarrywoman, as they perform their respective jobs. Revisiting the gendered history of the gaze, the photographs offer a collaborative alternative to how photographs are constructed.

There is an implicit critique of how image is tied to legitimacy and the ways women must shape their identity to navigate a male-dominated landscape. Broadly, this work focuses on the intersections of identity, landscape, and history and how the mechanisms of photography operate in those spheres. Undergirding the series are questions about corporeal experience in the digital age, the future of traditional forms of labor in a globalized economy, as well as urgent environmental concerns.

Recurring themes of my practice–identity, narrative, and geology–are woven together here through image making. These seemingly unrelated to pics at surface-level share the trait of a deeper, oftentimes hidden, malleability. Questions about how memory, narratives, and images are produced, function, and circulate reappear in my work as well. To underscore this mode of inquiry, collage, fragmentation and text are used, bringing process to the foreground, and troubling the authority of the image.