Illusionary World: Double Exposure in Inga Levy Graphics

Inga Levy, an artist, has spent the first days of invasion in the Carpathians. While reading the alarming news among the picturesque mountains, she came up with the graphic series ‘Double exposure’. In photography, this term stands for the technique of superimposing one frame on another. The artist told Bird in Flight how it helped her on the daily basis to combine the horrific images of war with the peaceful landscapes.
Inga Levy

A Kyiv artist, illustrator. Studied at the book graphics faculty of the NTUU KPI. Her artwork is kept in private and public collections in Ukraine, Europe, and the USA. She now works on preserving the photo archive of the Hutsul artist Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit.

— I am an artist for as long as I can remember – I created cityscape paintings, oil paintings, but the approaches have shifted in recent years. Now I am interested in other media, in particular I am trying to work with installations, mosaic.

On the day of the invasion, I was in Lviv, from where I was about to go to the village of Kryvorivnia to help my colleagues furnish the Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit museum, which was supposed to open on March 1. And after making sure that my parents, who stayed in Kyiv, are safe and sound, I went there. There we spent four days in a surreal state of reading horrendous news among the peaceful mountains, where only the church bells were a sign of what was happening.

From there I returned to Lviv, but later the city became so jammed that we even settled in a flower shop. So, my two colleagues and I went to Lithuania, where Darius Vaičekauskas hosted us at Menų zona residence. Following the Kyiv region liberation, I returned to the capital. Then in Kyiv, I was most impressed by the “anti-tank hedgehogs”. It seems like in a visual aspect they match the city.

Now I’m in Menų zona again, in Nida, because I have to realize the project I planned back in March. It is a very informal residence on the beautiful Curonian Spit located a few kilometres to the russian border. I don’t know if this is considered a normal life. But some action helps me to overcome anxiety.

In Kyiv, I was most impressed by the “anti-tank hedgehogs”. It seems like they match the city visually.

26 лютого. Верховина Прикарпаття / Київ, Лобановського 6А
February 26. Verhovyna Prykarpattia / Kyiv, 6A Lobanovskoho Avenue
1 березня. Прикрашання підвалу, Львів / Обстріл телевежі, Київ
March 1. Furnishing the basement, Lviv / Shelling of the TV tower, Kyiv
5 березня. Вид Львова з ЖК / Люди ховаються під руїнами мосту від ударів російської авіації та артилерії, Ірпінь
March 5. Lviv view shot from the residential complex / People are hiding under the bridge ruins from russian aircraft and artillery strikes, Irpin
8 березня. Переміщення фігури Ісуса Христа з Вірменського собору в укриття, Львів / Рятівники дістають людину з-під завалів будинку після авіаудару по місту, Суми
March 8. Moving the Jesus Christ statue out of the Armenian Cathedral to the basement, Lviv / Rescuers pull a person from under the house rubble after an airstrike on the city of Sumy
14 березня. Сліди хвиль на піску, Клайпеда, Литва / Художник Даніїл Немировський, з яким вже 12 днів немає зв'язку, Маріуполь в блокаді
March 14. Traces left on sand by the waves, Klaipeda, Lithuania / Artist Daniil Nemyrovskyi, who has not been in touch for 12 days, Mariupol is under blockade
4 квітня. Вулиця Києва / Контент соцмереж (новини з Бучі)
April 4. Kyiv streets / Social media content (news about Bucha)

On my way to the Carpathians, I found myself looking out the bus window at the mountains, but still seeing explosions from the news I read while I could connect to the web.

It’s not that there was some idea, I literally saw it that way – in a double exposure. In general, I am an artist of “I call them like I see them” type. If I chose to overlay real photos, it would be a hodgepodge, as I don’t have a mountain landscape in front of me every day. Besides, I do not have the right to directly use other people’s pictures from the news.

I am an artist of “I call them like I see them” type.

So, on February 26, I started drawing such images with double exposure. It seemed important for me to keep being an artist in this situation. As a result, the stories of my life and war events create new meanings or convey an emotional state when superimposed.

The series forced me to be involved in the war in my country, wherever I was. But sometimes I notice that my mind is lacking a certain resource, and it turns into masochism. Lately I have been procrastinating, hesitant to approach painting: I feel that I do not have the strength or the right to depict new woes. Sometimes there are even thoughts of quitting it all completely, but thanks to the feedback of some people and bearing in mind that one cannot surrender, I carry on.

5 квітня. Ванти Південного мосту, Київ / Бородянка
April 5. The cables of the Pivdennyi Bridge in Kyiv / Borodianka
5 квітня. Підземний перехід, Київ / Мапа оточення Маріуполя
April 5. Underpass in Kyiv / Besieged Mariupol map
April 15. At the Volodymyr Melnychenko studio, Kyiv / The russian Black Sea Fleet flagship ‘Moscow’ is burning nearby the Snake Island
April 15. At the Volodymyr Melnychenko studio, Kyiv / The russian Black Sea Fleet flagship ‘Moscow’ is burning nearby the Snake Island
April 16. A Kyiv room window / Irpin cemetery after the month of occupation
April 16. A Kyiv room window / Irpin cemetery after the month of occupation
17 квітня. Вхід Господній в Єрусалим / Маріуполь
April 17. Jesus Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem / Mariupol
21 квітня. Страсний Четвер / Кадр з відео з російського танка, що стріляє по житлових будинках Маріуполя
April 21. Maundy Thursday / A video still depicting a russian tank bombing households in Mariupol
23 квітня. Стражі у гроба Господня / Ті, хто в Азовсталі, Маріуполь
April 23. Guards at the Holy Sepulcher / Those in Azovstal, Mariupol
24 квітня. Христос воскрес! / «Маріуполь! Ми повернулись з аду» — напис пальцем на пилу на машині
April 24. Christ is risen! / ‘Mariupol! We got out of Hell’ - handwritten on the dusty car

I draw with a graphite pencil on paper in square format albums, because that’s what I had, such a funny children’s album and a pencil with me on February 24. I spend from 20 minutes to an hour and a half on one picture, but news monitoring and searching for relevant images can last from several hours to several days. At first, I did all the drawing in the evening, because I didn’t know what would happen tomorrow, whether I would have time and opportunity to work.

This series was shown in such galleries as “Svitlo” in Lviv, Structura in Sofia, Bread & Salt in San Diego, at the Withdraw the War exhibition in Tel Aviv and in Piazza Ukraina at the Venice Biennale in the form of posters along with the works of other Ukrainian artists. Two works are put up for sale at the Christine König Galerie charity auction, and one more is on sale in a form of the lithographically printed “Seeing=Living” project posters, which raises funds for the purchase of vision devices for the Armed Forces.

At first, I did all the drawings in the evening, because I didn’t know what would happen tomorrow, whether I would have time and opportunity to work.

26 квітня. Знесення монументу під Аркою Дружби народів, Київ / Пошкоджено дві антени, що ретранслювали радіо РФ, селище Маяк, Придністров'я
April 26. Demolition of the monument under the Friendship of Nations Arch, Kyiv [the arch is now called The Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian people - translator’s note] / Two antennas broadcasting russian radio have been damaged, Mayak village, Transnistria
29 квітня. Пелюстки вишні на землі, Київ / Похорон загиблих від обстрілів мешканів Рубіжного
April 29. Cherry blossom on the ground, Kyiv / Funeral of the Rubizhne residents killed by the shelling
28 травня. Барикади на пішохідному переході, Київ / Росія перекидає живу сиду і техніку з окупованого Криму на Запорізьку область
May 28. Barricades at the road crossing, Kyiv / Russia is transferring living force and equipment from the occupied Crimea to the Zaporizhzhia region
9 червня. Комунальний працівник стоїть в кінці станції метро «Либідська» між пілонами, Київ / Мешканець стоїть перед своїм палаючим будинком, Сєвєродонецьк
June 9. A community worker is standing at the back of the Lybidska subway station between the poles / A city resident is standing near his burning house, Severodonetsk
18 червня. Ксенія Бурика, художниця з Дніпра, відчиняє вікно в даху будинку в центрі Клайпеди, Литва / Вибух на нафтобазі на Дніпропетровщині внаслідок влучання трьох російських ракет
June 18, Kseniya Buryka, an artist from Dnipro, is opening a roof window of the house at the Klaipeda city centre, Lithuania / An oil depot explosion at the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast due to three russian missiles hitting it
30 червня. Фотографка Олеся Саєнко робить мій портрет для свого проєкту «Репресовані СРСР та їх нащадки», Клайпеда, Литва / В якості «жесту доброї волі» Міноборони РФ повідомило про вивід (добряче обстріляного) гарнізону з острова Зміїний
June 30. Olesia Sayenko, a photographer, is taking my picture for her project ‘The USSR political prisoners and their descendants’, Klaipeda, Lithuania / As a ‘goodwill gesture’, the russian Ministry of Defence has informed about the withdrawal of the (well shelled) garrison from the Snake Island
9 липня. Ракетний удар по центру Харкова цього ранку / Лебідь і два юних лебеді, що зовсім на бояться
July 9. A missile attack on the Kharkiv city centre this morning / A swan and two cygnets who aren’t afraid at all
15 липня. Художниця Даша Чечушкова розвішує сушитись «привідів», Ніда, Литва / Серія вибухів у Дніпрі
July 15. Dasha Chechushkova, an artist, is hanging ‘ghosts’ to dry, Nida, Lithuania / A series of blasts in Dnipro

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