Instagram artist Lucas Levitan has a whole new way of making art. With his project Photo Invasion, he steal other peoples Instagram photos and adds his own illustrations to them. On Thursday the 4th of September he takes the invasion to the streets of Shoreditch in a never seen before exhibition.
Picture by Olaya de Marcos
A: Can you tell me more about your project Photo invasion?
L: On Photo Invasion I twist the narrative of photographs by adding an illustrative touch on them. I create a surprising partnership with other users by ‘stealing’ their images. I use the word ‘stealing’ instead of ‘choosing’ because it gives a better understanding of the process. I don’t ask for permission which gives both, photographer and me, autonomy and respect in each one’s role in the process.
@michelleberlotti + @lucaslevitan
A: How did you come up with the idea?
L: When I see a photograph I’m looking for something else and that’s how Photo Invasion started. I used to illustrate my own photographs, but realised that it would be much more interesting if I started to use other people’s images. And the best place to ‘hunt’ for images is Instagram, isn’t it?
A: Are you using your friend’s instagram photos or is it random instagram users?
L: In the beginning it was just friends or people I follow, then I couldn’t hold myself back, and I start to hunt everywhere. I even invaded a few of my big idols of photography; Robert Frank, William Eggleston, Irving Penn and Francesc Catala-Roca and that’s when I decided to expand the Photo Invasion. I am trying to create a partnership with my drawings and the photographs. It’s never the intention to take over, but to build a new story together. I love my victims and I have a deep admiration for their work. I hope it’s seen as a kind and honourable form of robbery. Surprisingly for me, the number of followers and people asking to ‘invade’ their galleries grew quite fast and I started to have more fun doing it.
@mrkelmanson + @lucaslevitan
A: You are not asking for permission, has anyone ever got mad? Or has it got you into trouble?
L: I thought people might get mad, or ask to delete the images I made, however the feedback has surprisingly been great in all senses. I believe that people who use social media understand that a created image can be interpreted in many ways and my way is by creating a new storyline. Unfortunately I cannot make one image for each person who asked me. I’d love to have enough time to just invade everyones photographs and celebrate the art of image making. I do have one incident by using a famous British photographer’s image. I asked for permission to use the image in the exhibition and if he would mind if I used more of his photographs. He was rude in a subtle way and said that he hated what I had done with his image. Well, that was my mistake, now I don’t ask for permission anymore and I try to get images from people with a better sense of humour.
@larse70 + @lucaslevitan
A: What can we expect or not expect on your exhibition for Photo Invasion on Thursday?
L: Photo Invasion invades Shoreditch is the first time that I take this project out of the digital world. I’ll show a selection of my favourite invasions and new ones exclusively for the exhibition. People asked me if the work will change by taking it out from Instagram and putting on the streets, however I believe it’s exactly the same thing. From a public space to another one. The show will be displayed on a street wall and left behind as I do online. If it gets stolen, well, I really don’t mind, as I’ve stolen from someone else before. On Thursday I hope to party around the exhibition. We’ll have drinks and live music. It will be a great chance to meet a few Instagramers I never met in person, friends and by passers. It will be fun invading the streets of Shoreditch.
@andrelichtenberg + @lucaslevitan