VDB Asks... Les LeVeque


VDB Videoworks Compilations are back! For the first time in recent years, we have packaged a number of titles by some prolific artists from our collection onto their own special Videoworks Compilations. Available for educational purchase and single screening rental, these offer our customers great value! Ordering Videoworks Compilations proves substantially less expensive than buying or renting individual titles, and they give institutions a chance to own a cohesive collection of works by emerging and established artists.

In conjunction with the compilation releases, we are also launching a new feature showcasing special online conversations with each of our Videoworks artists.

VDB asks Les LeVeque

Can you tell us something about your background?

I have worked on a cattle farm in the Midwest, on an x-mas tree farm harvesting trees, on a fishing boat dragging for scallops, in a New Mexican bronze foundry, for a small company that cleaned movie theaters, as a parking lot attendant, as a carpenter, as a welder, and as a college professor.

What inspired you to become an artist?

My great-aunt Blanca was the first artist I knew. She studied painting in Paris in the 1920’s and lived an incredibly free life. She read Emma Goldman and protested against World War 1. She taught painting and sculpture in upstate New York. She died when she was 97. Just before she died she sent me a note “it is good to know you understand.” I am not sure I understand but she encouraged and inspired me to be an artist.

What inspired you to use video?

It had to do with an idea about resistance. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

How do you balance life and art?

I am not sure that they are different. I have always had trouble practicing balance.

What influences and motivates you in the world?

The easy answer would be to say pleasure and a hatred of capitalism. Another answer would be to say my influences and motivations are not fixed or easily locatable.

What artists or movements are you following right now?

I am fortunate to live in Brooklyn and to have taught in a MFA program for a long time. As a result I know many artists. I try and follow their work. From afar I am interested in Voina.

What has been your best screening experience?

In 2002 I did an elaborate installation of my videos at the Laboratorio Arte Alameda in Mexico City. Priamo Lozada organized the show. Working with him was lovely.

What are you working on right now?

I have just finished a body of work for a solo show. The show consists of large works on canvas and a 43 second 16mm film loop. Recently, I started work on two short videos.

How do you start a piece?

I would like to think that I begin with reckless experimentation. I don’t think that is always true. These two new videos are starting more from a place of exuberant confusion.

How do you know when it is finished?

Finishing can be difficult. Sometimes it is clear. Sometimes it was clear and I go back and make changes. Lately I have been avoiding some of the finishing crisis by making multiple versions.

What are you currently reading?

Walking With The Comrades by Arundhati Roy, Semblance and Event by Brian Massumi, The Agony of Power by Jean Baudrillard and The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault.

What are you watching?


January 2013

Les LeVeque is an artist who works with digital and analog electronic technology. His projects include single and multi-channel videos and video/computer based installations. His works pulse pharma phantasm, Strained Andromeda Strain, Notes from the Underground,and Dramatically Repeating Lawrence of Arabia have been compiled onto Les LeVeque Videoworks: Volume 3.