all images copyright kate levy 2011. all rights reserved. use of images is strictly prohibited without express consent of author.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

my cousin's kids

This shoot was a prime opportunity to show to my entire family that I am dually capable of taking "nice" pictures too. It proved to me that I want some babies.

Friday, May 27, 2011

303 Magazine Pride issue--my first cover!

There is nothing better than attending the release party for a pride themed issue of an up and coming magazine, and seeing hundreds of Denver's most elitest fashionistas carrying around a copy of a magazine with your sexy ass photograph on the cover. Nothing better than getting dressed up in your finest poofy skirt, with your finest girls on each arm, and having Mondo Guerra compliment your outfit in the ladies room. I carried around ten copies of the mag all night, gloating, and just ended up losing them all in the rush of drunkenness.
The issue of the magazine is a collaboration between 303 mag and the Center, just in time for this year's PrideFest.
The photographs highlight the theme of this year's festivities, and depict sexy men in uniform. Apparently, the demolition of Don't Ask, Don't Tell has inspired this twist of politics into a party theme--leave it to the gays! I'm both ecstatic with the photos because they raise a lot of questions for me, yet I know Denver and the ever-widening LGBT community can do a lot better.
Our stylist, Charlie Price, opted to feature mostly vintage, uniform-inspired clothing. The location was the Denver Eagle, a well-loved local leather bar, blurring the lines between dominance, order, submission, obedience, a sense of duty and what's bound to get wild. Charlie set the mood and I selected the spots and set up the shots--in the walk in cooler, back room, bathroom--all those places we are not supposed to go, especially when we are drunk.
I suppose this is some unconscious tribute to how gays were never "supposed" to be in the military, but they are. I find this change of policy both encouraging and disheartening--while I sorta appreciate the long fucking overdue too little too late acceptance of the miraculous embracement of the masculine and feminine (read: QUEER) into this military, I regard war, hierarchy, etc etc as facets of this trapped, overly simplified, glossed over and exclusive world, something that our human evolution (read--the integration of all genders) must transcend. Are we doing contemporary society a favor by joining the fucking military and getting married in a church that continues to perpetuate lies to control the vast intricacies of "human nature." I find myself believing that gender/sexually/spiritually ambiguous folk should have boycotted all this to begin with, not the other way around. But there we are with our hands out and our leashes ready to feed on the sloppy piggy trough of rotting curd and take a walk around the jail yard track, with little more than a "yes please." Please.

(scroll down)

Which is why I have mixed feelings about these photos:
Distilling this intense history of livelihood, murder, discipline, disobedience, hate, mission, civil rights, sex, love and fear into a six page fashion spread feels like both a positive, flippant fuck you to the ties of history and a blatant reinstatement of a stereotype that proclaims that if we put a gay man in uniform, he's going to just want to take it off....take it alllll off, and then take it off of all the other soldiers' uniforms around him. And the stereotype also continues through the shoot with the archetypical gay man dressed in leather, downing Coors Light, rubbing up against a bathroom stall. Never turn around in the bathroom of the Eagle.
It's confusing to watch an episode of Glee on Fox, all pro-gay rights, applauding the fashion of Chris Colfer and the strength of Mike O'Malley to bring him gay boy pamphlets, and then watch fucking Bill O'Reilly and whats his face--I can't even remember his stupid fucking name--on the same channel blatantly bash what all media has agreed on calling "gay rights." Who's really winning when they are all on the same team. There's got to be a Benedict Arnold in some of them. But is that movement strong enough to buck it from within?

At the end of the day, I know one thing---a steamy makeout session in a bar ALWAYS fucking wins, as does playing with fire--bondage, boundaries and social norms. 

Here's the rest of the spread, please click to enlarge: 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

hip hop show weekend

Got back to Denver Friday and hit the ground running with a couple Westword Slidshows. First, I hit my girl Ru's annual birthday bash: LollipaRuza. I must say I was feeling it more because I knew all the hard work Ru put into reviving the great voices of the past by rallying new voices (it was a cover show with all the Denver players). Saturday was the Jet Life Tour featuring Curren$y, and I had not attachment to this event...just my own motivation to make images to chronicle the scene.
But what is it about hip hop--common interest, synchronous lyrics beating out like pounding your point with your fist into the table, intense passion subdued and lit up with chronic. What is it about having a purpose?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Generalized Motivation

The GM factory in Ypsilanti has probably never been cleaner. Its pristine condition will allow executives of manufacturing companies to get an objective glance at the coveted machinery born and bred in the big "D" (read big M, for Metro), whose odometer reads 500,000. The buyers will pay the removal fee and have their way with one or more parts to an assembly line to which several hundred people have effectively devoted their entire lives. Push button, robot arm swings forward. Push button, robot arm deposits part. Push button, robot arm returns to initial position. Push button to lower robot arm to refill part. Push button, make pension. Push button, move forward with investments. Push button, buy new home, new car. Push button, deposit in 401k. Push button. Push button. Push button push button. Wait a second...........where did my fucking money go? Push button once and you are guaranteed to push it for the next thirty years without threat of young, tantalizing, sunburned fingers. We never did expect the sun in Michigan, although we always hoped for it. I still do. I went to Holland last year and experienced 70 degree sunshine and windmills in the middle of January.
The auto industry was here to stay. Until it was disemboweled and repackaged to a growing Undustry in India that seems to be doing fine (to be fair, there were men of many differing national origins attending the auction). The sale is slated to bring anywhere from a fuck ton of money if things fall short and an obscene amount of money if things go well. I can't say how much, but I can say it probably wasn't worth it in the grand scheme of things.
The factory floor is wiped clean to accomodate the lone wanderers in suits who click click click Prada shoes to recluse from the cunnilingus of the auctioneers tongue. He's my uncle, the auctioneer. My dad used to be an auctioneer.
No wonder I'm so good at licking pussy, I have begun to joke, to ease my subjects at this recent shoot--the Hilco/Maynard's auction at the Willow Run Plant.
I have never seen business men so laid back.
I'm oversimplifying this. But as usual I'm more interested in the poetry of it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

just a cover

I have volunteered at Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit a few times now this month. I love being there, working hard alongside people just broaching the surface of what responsible urban renewal and rebuilding a sustainable community means, and how urban agriculture differs from rural farming. I met this girl who works on the farm through a program similar to Americorps. I asked her to hang out sometime and she reluctantly agreed. We had a late breakfast and wantered through Corktown through a delightful alley and down to the railroad tracks along the river to under the Ambassador Bridge. We started talking about Andrea Gibson and Ani DiFranco, and no sooner did we mention Ani's name that a trooper from the Department of Homeland Security pulled up in his new white, government logo infested Suburban. 
"I think he wants us to leave," I said, which would, in hindsight, make sense as we were walking down railroad tracks under an international bridge. He rolled down his window and we smiled our naive, we're just lost white girls look at him. He asked us what we were doing there, and we responded we were just visitors going for a walk. "In DETROIT?" he prodded. "This is DETROIT, it's not SAFE to wander here." My new friend explained that she's actually a recent transplant from Ann Arbor, working on a community garden on the east side. "Why do you want to live HERE?" he asked, with disbelief, disgust and disdain. Like the motherfucker wants a fucking job more than he wants to fulfill the actual (imaginary) purpose of his job. Like he's a crusader for keeping Detroit ugly so he can continue to work for the assumptions that make him a hero. Like he takes pleasure in the fact that Detroit has a rough reputation that no one can seem to penetrate, so his appeal in uniform and loose relationship to keeping detroit "safe" never gets old. Like the rough projected image of Detroit is really just a cover to keep the legacy of structural violence going strong. I've never felt unsafe in Detroit until I was locked in the back of his car as he escorted us to safety, telling us to call 911 if we get into trouble on our walks back to our Made in Detroit vehicles. 

added 5/13 as addendum to "inanimate and high" blog posting from april 27.

sifting back through again, as ive come to michigan i've set down the clunk and resolved to send the hues into cyberspace. these photos sure are lonely out there. goal after phone healing session with kathleen:
bridge heart to root and crown. channel energy out eyes as it comes (secondary lead into photographing but do not pick up the camera). i'm called to visual art as a thread in the tapestry: 
visions and dreams are a part of the whole. no guilt for indulging in the visual. the visual does not have to intellectually distill to superficial.

these images are clearly very human, their subjects are a product of the concise exclusivity of the contrived "whole" that excludes anything but human lines. but that ego has its place too.

Friday, May 13, 2011


i overlook the flesh and blood for a stark textural juxtaposition. is it ethical to represent people in photographs only as what they mean to you? to literally appropriate people for your own meanings? i approach people and ask them to photograph them. sometimes we engage in conversation and it seems that dialogue may be the only thing that reeps mutual benefit. is the photo a biproduct?