Eric Lundgren at The Quarterly Conversation:
Levé’s projects often invite us into discomfort, into awkward gaping at the failures of art. This work features a number of speakers—a confused adolescent trying to recount a dream, an old man recalling a shameful event which he describes “through a long and obscure circumlocution which he alone understands.” Another man tells a story with too many characters that soon becomes impossible to follow. It is like the worst episode of This American Life ever. It puts us in mind of one of the remarkable things about Levé’s career: that he seems to have rejected conventional narrative right from the beginning. There was no realist teething phase as with the American avant-gardists David Markson, Padgett Powell, and David Shields. This innate confidence could be attributed to the strong tradition of French experimental writing, particularly the Oulipo group. The notion of potential literature is obviously in play here, with the paradoxical liberations offered by its strict forms. The specters of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Raymond Roussel also haunt Levé’s intricately imagined performances, stupefying films, and impossible architecture. In Workshe is obsessed with those moments at which conventional art-responses break down: the catalog includes a number of projects where masterpieces are turned into bad copies, videos played without sound, books attributed to the wrong authors. It is a systematic undermining of “aura” as Walter Benjamin put it memorably in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” his ode to democratization and lament for art’s failed transcendence.