In this interview, artist Dani Leventhal talks about her video 54 Days this Winter, 36 Days this Spring for 18 Minutes (2009), which she conceived as a site-specific installation for MoMA PS1’s Greater New York 2010 exhibition. Created with a small handheld camera, this work juxtaposes disparate imagery, functioning as an archive of the artist’s interests, desires, concerns, and insights. Imposing a rigid structure on her working process, the artist shot exactly six minutes of footage each day for fifty-four days during the winter months, and for nine minutes each day for thirty-six days of spring. She then subjected this substantial repository of material to a rigorous editing process, condensing hours of recorded footage into a jarring montage of incongruous imagery that collapses temporal and spatial boundaries.
Leventhal uses a similar method to create drawings and collages from material she collects over time. Her works on paper—which meld abstract forms rendered in ink, watercolor, and oil paint with photographs of family and friends, scraps of paper, wax, and found objects such as bird feathers and animal fur—can be seen as an extension of her films, not only translating her impressionistic montage technique to another medium, but also repeating many of the same themes and images. Rarely composed in advance, the collages, like the videos, are the results of an intuitive response to particular materials and images and their relation to lived experience.
Employing this process of accumulation and excision, Leventhal creates videos, collages, and installations that probe her life and her surroundings while encompassing a broad range of themes, from the explicitly political to the mundane and domestic. Throughout it all, she acts as a keen observer, unearthing a curious beauty in the minutiae of everyday life.