Face to Face
Enemies from the days of Little Big Horn share close quarters this weekend at the Jan Weiner Gallery at Lula Mac. A show called Indians and Cowboys, Cowboys and Indians pairs photographers Andres Serrano and David Levinthal. Both artists twist iconic images such as hooded Klansmen and perversely svelte Barbie dolls.
Levinthal contributes photographs of miniature cowboy figurines. He shoots the little buckaroos extremely close up; weirdly, they seem as big as their human counterparts. When Levinthal photographs tiny plastic soldiers in this manner, they suffer a complete loss of identity — whether they’re killers or defenders of freedom, their faces are blurs.
From his studio in New York City, Levinthal says the cowboys appeal to him on both personal and aesthetic levels.
“Having grown up in the ’50s, there are numerous pictures of me in a cowboy hat. And about three years ago, I found a photograph from Christmas 1964 of me playing with these little, hand-painted German cowboys and Indians,” he says.
“On the one hand, they’re nostalgic but also apropos of the whole creation of the myth of the American West. I looked a lot at Remington’s paintings and John Ford films, and the cowboys capture that sensibility about the West that existed only in these artworks and films but not in reality, as historians are telling us today.”
Serrano fills out the bill with six large portraits of Native Americans. He’s the photographer who will forever be stamped controversial for his beautiful, misunderstood “Piss Christ,” a crucifix immersed in a bubbly, amber substance that you’d only know was urine if someone told you. “I hope it’s not the only photograph I’ll be famous for,” Serrano tells the Pitch.
Like Levinthal, Serrano says that the mere mention of cowboys and Indians takes him back to his youth. “I grew up in the ’50s, when Westerns were popular on TV,” he says. “And I still subscribe to the Western channel on cable, seeing the same ones I did then.”