Grace Jones: Stillness at the Speed of Light

Artist Chris Levine is exhibiting a series of 3D portraits of Grace Jones at The Vinyl Factory in London from Friday…

Artist Chris Levine is exhibiting a series of 3D portraits of Grace Jones at The Vinyl Factory in London from Friday…

The portraits are the result of an ongoing collaboration between Levine and Jones, which began after the duo were introduced by Philip Treacy, who art directed Jones’ live show at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008. Levine went on to create some original laser work for her tour, including a high-beam laser that was aimed at a Treacy-designed crystal bowler hat worn by Jones, which showered the audience in shards of light.

Levine has previously worked with Massive Attack and Antony & The Johnsons on live shows, but stresses that his input is not simply a case of setting up a lighting system that someone else can operate. “Each live performance project has different visual objectives,” he explains. “If you are looking to create original work, it’s never straightforward as it’s likely not to have been done before. For me the frustration is that unless I play the beams live and tune the installation personally on site, the end result often seems to be compromised. It’s difficult to mechanise what I do.”

The lasers reappear in Levine’s 3D portraits of Jones, which follow his much-admired holographic portrait of the Queen, a still from which was featured on the cover of the CR April 2008 issue. “I shot these using a similar technology to my Queen work,” he says. “Essentially the images are captured using a digital camera moving along a linear rail. These images are processed to create a lenticular artwork such that your left and right eyes see a stereo pair of images and you perceive depth. The artworks are mounted onto LED lightboxes.”

Levine spoke highly of his experience of working with the notoriously fiesty Jones. “She is so much more than a singer, more a performance artist – a one-off superstar,” he raves. “Like me, she is always reaching out into new sensory territories and combined we have a good chemistry. From the moment my laser hit her crystal bowler at the Royal Festival Hall it was like ‘OK, what else can you do?’. One thing led to another – it’s a journey. I think we have a way to go yet.”


A selection of images from the 3D portraits are shown here. A series of limited edition prints from the collaboration between Jones and Levine will be on sale at The Vinyl Factory from Thursday, alongside a limited edition version of the Hurricane LP, Grace Jones’ first album of new material for 19 years. The LP will include two superweight vinyl records as well as a print of Levine’s Superstar image of Jones, shown top. The art and vinyl editions will be signed by both Levine and Jones. More info is at The exhibition at Vinyl Factory will run until May 14, details are here.

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