Drew Leventhal was born in 1995 and is based in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from Vassar College in 2017 with a degree in visual anthropology. After that, Drew studied for a year at the International Center of Photography before becoming a work scholar at Aperture Foundation. Drew currently teaches color darkroom printing at ICP. His work deals with themes of history and memory, evoking the cycles of life and death and the ever-changing notion of the family.
My project, titled “Yosh,” investigates the aftermath of the enigmatic life of a British colonial officer in 1950s Belize. Yosh (godfather in Maya), as Don Owen-Lewis was called by the local Maya community, came to Belize to work as an “Indian Development Officer.” After leaving the service, Yosh stayed in Belize and raised a family while influencing Belize’s move towards political independence from Great Britain in 1981.
My family has long been connected to Yosh through his support of my father’s archaeological work in Belize. I began visiting Yosh at an early age and I inherited a deep history of friendship with his family. After he died in 2018, his daughter encouraged me to investigate and evoke his complicated and contradictory story through photography and archival research. I aspire, in the words of the artist Federico Clavarino, to find a way of “maintaining a tension between elegy and indictment when dealing with narrative material in which family record and colonial epic co-existed.”
This portfolio is part of a larger investigation into Yosh’s legacy. Although inspired by my curation of archival materials, collected ephemera, and family interviews, the pictures themselves cannot retell or recreate his story. Instead, blending elements of truth and fiction, documentation and interpretation, I gesture to Yosh’s fleeting but definite presence. Building upon the work of social documentary photographers such as Cristina De Middel and Christian Patterson, I weave my images with elements of the past to create lyrical traces of Yosh’s life.
To view more of Drew Leventhal’s work please visit his website.