A Latin American song plays over blurry images. At the beginning of Erik Levine’s film Still Lifes, we are overcome by a feeling of rapture. Almost as though we were gradually coming to our senses from a deep sleep, we begin to see the outlines of people going along a corridor. After a brief pause, the artist wordlessly invites us to contemplate his ›still lifes‹.
Transposed into the role of curious observers, we wander through a retirement home in Argentina, where we are introduced to the residents. Sometimes we get so close to them that we feel uncomfortable – not least because the artist is confronting us with our own impermanence. At the beginning, the camera immediately draws our attention to the age-spotted face of a sleeping woman, still covered by a thin layer of makeup. This proximity, which initially seems almost shameless, gradually allows us to form an increasingly close bond with the film’s protagonists. For example, we watch sympathetically as an elderly woman tries repeatedly to open a locked door over the course of several minutes. These everyday scenes, immersed in sonic textures which sound both ethereal and familiar, are rhythmically interrupted by redundant sequences in which we observe the seniors watching television. We then see dream-sequence portraits of these individuals.
These surreal scenes create an entirely new context, a microcosmos of the remembrance of times gone by. With Still Lifes, Levine has not only succeeded in depicting the process of human aging with empathy and aesthetic prowess; he has also created a film art work that is both sonically and visually highly varied and carefully structured, resembling a piece of classical music. (Milena Rosa Vasovic)