David Levine works in, with, or towards theatre, depending on how you look at it. His background as a commercial theatre director and his deep admiration for Minimalism and the Conceptual art of the second half of the 20th century overlap, complement each other, and brutally collide in a body of work that constantly speaks about the limits, codes, spaces, methods, and audiences of theatre. Levine's work draws from the profoundly popular tradition of American realist theatre in order to carry out experiments that are often profoundly unpopular, difficult to document, or simply invisible. In "Bauerntheater" (2007), for example, Levine hired American actor David Barlow to step into the shoes of a German farmer in the most direct way possible: spending five weeks (after an initial month of rehearsals in a Brooklyn studio) working ten hours a day on a hectare of land in a field in Brandenburg, Germany. "Bauerntheater", which became something of a media phenomenon, is a scathing commentary on the global labour market, work, resistance, and authenticity.
In this podcast, David Levine discusses this piece and some of his other works, as well as the historical precedents of what he calls "infiltrations" in everyday life, such as Adrian Piper's The Mythic Being, Vito Acconci's Following Piece, and Lynn Hershman Leeson's Roberta Breitmore. Almost an hour chatting about reality and fiction, representation, invisibility, loops, and disappearances of all kinds.
02:00 Realism, real life, experiments
06:00 Visual arts and theater
20:04 Suspending disbelief
22:52 Objects, props, spaces and challenges
35:33 Standing out vs. blending in
43:24 Virtuosity, realism, work and reward
44:55 Head shots, failure, shame