It was a match made in art school for Sonia Halpern-Bazar and Devon Levine. The two met in the Concordia University photography program and got married last November.
Now both are professional artists, although their bread and butter still comes from earning a living in another manner: Halpern-Bazar works as a fashion photographer and Levine is an accountant. Yet their websites take visitors deep into their more creative psyches.
One of Levine’s videos dealing with noise and over-stimulation is on his website at devonlevine.com. It simultaneously attacks and mesmerizes the viewer with its flashing screen captures from the Bell and IBM websites and relentless audio track.
“I tried to edit together the audio, but by happy accident, it got looped and doubled. Once I figured out how this weird effect happened, I went off the deep end with that,” he says.
The artist’s physical sculptures are more whimsical and have something to say about society’s unstoppable march through technological innovation and the absurdity of equipment once it has become obsolete. “For the past two years, I’ve been using found objects that are borderline antique technologies and I rearrange them and organize them as sculptural building blocks in their own right,” he says.
Levine participated in the recent group exhibition, Objects in an Embassy. He gathered about 50 phone jacks that are quickly becoming household dinosaurs as more and more people dispense with their landlines in favour of cellphones. “I connected them all to each other, not serving any purpose except as a conversation starter,” he says.
Another of his favourite pieces is made from briefcases, once used to store clunky magnetic data storage medium, standing on end in square formation around the packing foam that fit inside them.
“A company I worked for that had been around since the 1950s was throwing them out. I’m a big fan of Marshall McLuhan’s media theory and I liked them aesthetically,” he says.
“Devon and I have really opposite work,” says Halpern-Bazar, who has exhibited at Galerie ERGA and FOFA Gallery in Montreal, as well as in Berlin. She creates stunning large-format photographic images of swimmers, urban characters and interiors.
Her early Ghosts series, which was shot in 35mm long exposure, superimposes translucent people in extant settings, like a languorous ghost woman on her solid sofa. “It’s about how people experience being in their world,” she says.
Rue Saint-Jacques is a much grittier series that challenged Halpern-Bazar to enter strip clubs and dives into what she calls “the no man’s land of Montreal,” to photograph the habitués.
The unpeopled interiors of another series, Fall of the Empire, are poignant all on their own. “My friend’s grandfather had just been moved out of his home and due to his limited mobility, he became a hoarder. It was a beautiful home and then to see the downfall of it all was a really solemn experience,” she says.
On her website, soniabazar.net, is the Swim slo-mo video series, in which she filmed swimmers in an apartment pool, inspired by the mikveh concept of cleansing, as well as vulnerability in water.
Tasteful nudes also appear in her book of poetry, i’ll hold your skin while you dance.
She is currently creating abstract sculptures by oxidizing copper wrapped in pantyhose. The pieces become encrusted by borax crystals after being soaked for months in a large aquarium. She then photographs and documents them for posterity.
“These still relate to cleansing and bodies and water, feminine materials that undergo transformation. It’s a gestational type of experience,” she explains.
The couple is in the process of moving to a new studio – a fresh start to complement their new life together.