Chris Levine – Lightness of Being

On 29 November, on the occasion of its 30-year anniversary, Lempertz in Cologne will auction the work "Lightness of Being" by Chris Levine in the special auction "30 Years of Photography at Lempertz - 30 Photographic Masterpieces".

In 2004, Chris Levine was commissioned by the Jersey Heritage Trust to take a portrait of Queen Elisabeth II to celebrate Jersey's 800-year allegiance to the British Crown. But what should a portrait of the Queen, the most frequently photographed personality of the 20th century, look like if it wanted to stand out from other, conventional portraits? Levine opted for the hologram, an idea that the Queen was immediately enthusiastic about.

However, this is a process that not only involves immense technical effort and requires the use of large equipment, but also demands a great deal from the portrayed person/sitter: During the shooting at Buckingham Palace, the Queen had to remain completely motionless for 8 seconds each time the high-resolution digital camera moved along a track, taking 200 pictures of her, a process that had to be repeated many times if a picture with an actual 3D effect was to be created later. Levine therefore advised the queen to relax as much as possible, between the shots while he reset the camera to its starting point. 

Fascinated by the peace she radiated with her eyes closed, Levine decided to take her in during these phases of relaxation, and so two pictures emerged from this intensive portrait session: in the portrait Equanimity - which the island of Jersey later presented as an official gift from the National Portrait Gallery in London - the Queen looks at us with her eyes open, while The Lightness of Being surprises and captivates us with the impression that we are observing the Queen, this very public person, in a moment of intimate, meditative silence. And there is more: in the present elaboration of the motif as a life-size lenticular print that creates the illusion of a deep space, ‚Her Majesty' takes on such a sculptural form that it appears as if she were actually and physically standing opposite us in this private moment.