Lilly McElroy (2008)


Lilly McElroy

NewCity Chicago by Dan Gunn

Lilly McElroy’s photographs document her projectile jumps at men in bars. The men, who passively wait for her flailing body, are visibly ill at ease — an uncomfortable target of her and the rest of the bar’s attention. One especially awkward image finds McElroy in midair with her bust and pursed red lips aimed at a skinny gentleman in a leather jacket one size too large, his legs tensed in an unsure anticipation. The reactions of the spectators are usually displayed as empathic embarrassment for McElroy’s “un-cool” behavior. And it is this three-part interaction that McElroy lets us see in her photos: man, woman and audience all within subset of bar behavior. These pictures reveal a lot of the annoying convention and cultural baggage that surrounds having a genuine interaction with another individual in a scene such as a nightclub or bar. And while quite humorous, they stop short of being insightful. As contemporary human relationships become more and more inflected by forces such as the entertainment industry, there is something deeper to be mined from art than just entertaining gags. Although there is enough with within her practice to believe that McElroy will eventually hit it. Pun intended.

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