Levi Jackson uses an interdisciplinary approach to his work combining photography and installation with nods to performance. His work revolves around the Western landscape, where he was raised, and challenges the historical perceptions by pairing it with contemporary understanding. Levi received his MFA from Pratt Institute (2013) and now lives and teaches photography in Utah. He has shown work nationally and internationally with a solo exhibition at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (2015) and group exhibitions at Kunsthalle, Osnabrueck (2017), Gerish Stiftung Foundation (2015), HPGRP Gallery (2012).
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the value of myths. A lie, a meaningful lie. I have been trying to understand how a legend or folk tale operates, why they exist and what purpose they serve. I’ve always thought that the fabricated vision of the West was a misrepresentation of reality and that my job was to lift the veil, so others could see the ‘truth.’ I’m now making work where I am less interested in direct truth or reality and more concerned with how the myth says something that truth could never approach.
I choose to use photography in my work because the image produced is simultaneously a hyperreality and an incredible truth-teller. It can make us see and understand things, not as they really are, but as we want them to be. This photographic thesis aligns itself naturally with my vision of the West. What does this process of myth-ing the West tell us about ourselves (myself)? How have our choices to portray this landscape as a sublime oasis or rugged cowboys, informed our role as colonizers and conquerors? I am looking at the Western landscape and its incorporation of bent truths and tall tales as metaphors for humanity in a contemporary context.
My work is closely tied to physically being in the landscape, while simultaneously existing for the aftereffect. I make and think for the photograph. Constructing the sets, photographing, dismantling and revealing all become analogous to creating a reality. The removed site and creation of truth is central to the perception that I am critiquing and questioning. It is the reality, and the lie, of the mirage that most draws me in.