Lilly McElroy (2008)


Lilly McElroy

Chicago Tribune by Alan Artner

The 10 inkjet prints by Lilly McElroy at the Thomas Robertello Gallery are documents of performances given in bars in Chicago and Kansas City, in which the woman artist made literal the phrase “throwing herself at men.” By turning herself into a projectile hurled at consenting but often still startled males, she sought to reverse the sexual energy between men and women while exploring unconventional connections between people, a favorite topic of her earlier videos.

The photographs, taken with a 35-millimeter camera McElroy lent to friends, are, however, shown with bar installed in the gallery from which the artist invites viewers to take a drink of wine or whiskey. And that further lightens the situation sometimes already appearing comic in the images, causing to evaporate the more serious concern regarding unorthodox communication between strangers in an urban setting.

Without props, the pictures better convey instances of sweet acquiescence or alarm, as well as crowd reactions that seem pleasantly engaged or completely indifferent with no middle ground. But photographs register appearance not intent, so today’s viewers have to project the underlying seriousness that may be lost when the artist no longer is around to instruct future generations.

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