Lilly McElroy (2008)


Lilly McElroy

Modern Painters by Lori Waxman

I throw myself at men is both title and score of Lilly McElroy’s first solo exhibition, a series of performance photographs of the artist hurling herself into the waiting arms of strange men in strange bars. The compositions maintain a theatrical consistency: the men close their eyes, McElroy leaps from out of the frame, onlookers either smirk or turn a blind eye. The action itself ranges from the violently projectile to the awkwardly pathetic to the hilariously balletic, exposing the comically wretched sadomasochism of leaping into the void (after Yves Klein). But finally, the strange, punning alchemy by which McElroy has turned the gross cliche of heterosexual seduction into something unfamiliar might most aptly be classified as the magical power of the literal. Unlike the explorations of stereotype and truism enacted by earlier artists such as Cindy Sherman or Carrie Mae Weems, McElroy’s gambit is less a question of revealing false constructions than of miming them, slapstick-style, in search of unexpected truths – here the oddly admirable ballsiness of female sexual aggression. Her leap into the void of flirtation becomes something superhuman, or superwoman, capturing the decisive moment where gravity is suspended and no one’s been bruised, yet.

Powered by ArtCat