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Shadow Boxing : Artist's installation shines light on the alienation haunting Germany.

April 16, 1999|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Knowing that Deborah Lefkowitz is both a documentary filmmaker and a visual artist, a visitor to her installation works could expect to find art grounded in reality and reportage.

Instead, what greets the viewer at the artist's "Light Chambers" at the Platt Gallery is an evocatively ambiguous environment, which invites as many questions as answers.

Therein lies its power.

Specifics are sanded down, and sensory perception is provoked. Both filmmaker and installation artist are interested in conveying stories and ideas with compact visual "scenes."

The scene, in this case, takes place in a darkened gallery. Seven light boxes are scattered in the room, projecting light through transparencies taken from Lefkowitz's documentary "Intervals of Silence: Being Jewish in Germany." The film is about the discreet but noticeable aura of alienation felt between Jews and non-Jews in Germany and the lingering awareness of the Holocaust.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday April 17, 1999 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Zones Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Artist's installation--The photograph above of "Light Chambers," an installation by artist Deborah Lefkowitz at the Platt Gallery, inadvertently ran upside-down Friday.
PHOTO: (No Caption)
PHOTOGRAPHER: BORIS YARO / Los Angeles Times

Holocaust-based art grapples with questions of explicitness and how best to convey meaning while touching on real, horrific human events. Lefkowitz errs on the side of the poetic.

Her source images are purposefully vague, with figures wrapped up in urban settings further rendered enigmatic by their appearance as negative transparencies.

Lighted from below, these transparencies are visible as images, but they also cast light and shadowy forms onto twisting lightweight screens attached to the ceiling, in a plume-like impression.

A sum effect of these "Light Chambers" suggests the vaporous trajectory of smoke, but with hints of figurative shadows on the screen and ceiling. Somehow, the shadow play evokes both the elusive quality of collective memory and the fragility of human spirit.

BE THERE

"Light Chambers" installation by Deborah Lefkowitz, through May 2 at the Platt Gallery, University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland, Los Angeles. (310) 476-9777, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays.

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