My name is Sophie T. Lvoff and I’m an artist, curator, and educator. I was born in New York City in 1986 and have spent most of my life in New York, traveling in Europe, and then living New Orleans, Louisiana. I studied photography and philosophy at NYU and then went to go live in New Orleans after seeing the movie Down By Law. I wanted to photograph in the South and that also helped me to decide about leaving my hometown of New York.
Starting from a photographic background, a large part of what I focus on is the tradition of landscape photography. I wonder what truth can be conveyed in an inherently deceptive yet democratic medium. I once had a teacher say that the most important part of a photographic print was correcting it for the color of the air during the original scene of the photograph using the tools available.
My life research draws from my larger photographic practice as I have an affinity for making aesthetic photographs through the media I’m using: film, light and air, combined with a rich setting with multiple histories I’ve investigated and researched that cannot be fully described without the aid of other medias, texts, and initiatives.
Besides my studio and curatorial practice, and my career teaching, I’ve also spent much of my life as an arts worker. I’ve started and joined artist-run spaces and collectives, raised funds for art projects and initiatives, written texts about art, designed and photographed catalogs and monographs, interned for galleries and artists, assisted and researched for other artists, and will continue to do so, probably forever.
About ‘Hell’s Bells / Sulfur / Honey’:
It is part of a collective mythology that New Orleans is a city of mystery, faith, and magic. However, the quotidian underlies the mystique. I am interested in the colorful, heavy, and humid atmosphere that collides with the mystic landscape—a landscape at once laden with history and overturned and rebuilt every day.
The quotidian of New Orleans lines up and lights up in a cosmic and timeless manner. I drive upon the city’s roads looking for locations where I feel something ethereal and tangible—classic cars, hand painted signs, graveyards, and bars on the same block, tropical vegetation, and churches are all part of this glimmering mundane. My eye is mediated through a means of analog recording in a very low-tech cityscape and I am drawn to a variety of available light sources—late afternoon sunlight, street lamps, neon, overcast skies, stained-glass windows, and window displays.
The noise of the city is sucked out of the frame and what is left is an observation of New Orleans’ aura. The title of this project comes from elements in a Louisiana Voodoo “cure-all” spell that can solve all one’s problems. The elements are to be mixed together, put in a glass, rubbed on a black cat and then slowly sipped. Hell’s Bells are poisonous (aka Datura or Jimson weed) and are commonly found in New Orleans.