I’m in love with a girl, and her name is Lilly McElroy. I’m still searching for the superlative that will totally encapsulate her particular strain of righteous-quirky-artistic-awesomeness. If there’s anything cooler than someone with the balls to be fearless and trust that it will work out in the end, it’s someone who does it all in public. Basically, Lilly McElroy is the coolest chick ever.
Combining photography with experiential art (with what I’m sure must border on performance art for anyone lucky enough to be in the room when Lilly walks in…), her on-going series “I Throw Myself At Men” is literally that. She walks into bars and asks dudes she doesn’t know if she can throw herself at them while her partner takes a picture of it.
“I started the project by placing an ad on Craig’s list looking for men who would meet me at bars blind date style and let me literally throw myself at them. This worked fairly well, but limited the # of photos I could take. Now , I go to bars with a friend/photographer and approach men who are physically larger than I am. I ask them if I can literally throw myself at them. If they say yes, I have myself photographed doing it and buy them a drink afterwards.”
Ah. May. Zing.
The results are whacked out and joyous; I’m not sure what’s more entertaining: the glee with which McElroy hurls herself through the air or the look of abject panic on the faces of the men who know that their manhood pretty much rides on how successfully they catch her.
“I Throw Myself At Men” has a very spontaneous fun-house sort of feel, but in “Locations” she works in a similar style to a more disturbing, reflective affect. She choses specific locations – always a privately-owned public space, and always a place where people are in a hurry to move around. Wearing just a nightgown, McElroy quietly lays down and documents people reactions. Or, more importantly, their non-reactions.
The quality of the photos is so great that it’s hard to believe they’re not controlled sets. Knowing that these are genuine public spaces that she simply walked into and laid down gives them a unsettled feel – like you want to rush in and make sure she doesn’t get stepped on. Or driven over by a car.
I especially like how her poses don’t insinuate violence or alarm; she doesn’t appear to have fallen down or been hurt. She looks like she’s napping, and that very laid-back serenity in these most robotic of public places make her sojourns there all the more dynamic. One of the most telling results of “Locations” is that while shooting the entire project she was only approached and asked if she needed help three times.
“A considerable amount of our time is spent in those locations where conduct is regimented. This has become especially noticeable due to the current practice of reigning in public expression. Fear of non-conformity has made uncommon behaviors virtually impermissable… When not dismissed as absurd, my actions were responded to with anger; re-emphasizing the fact that public behavior has become highly restricted”.
Marry me, Lilly McElroy!
As if I wasn’t already endeared enough, amongst her gloriously bizarre projects, in her “Recent Acts of Self Portraiture” series, she’s got a video still called “Things from my floor that stuck to my hand”, where she mummified her hand in masking tape and, true to her word, saw how much stuff from the floor she could snag up. How fucking random is that? I love her. Behold:
All images © Lilly McElory