New York

View of “Hilary Lloyd,” 2011. Foreground: Shirt, 2011. Background: Moon, 2011.

View of “Hilary Lloyd,” 2011. Foreground: Shirt, 2011. Background: Moon, 2011.

Hilary Lloyd

Artists Space Exhibitions

View of “Hilary Lloyd,” 2011. Foreground: Shirt, 2011. Background: Moon, 2011.

Thighs, 2011, by Hilary Lloyd, appeared to have legs, as did nearly all of the works in her exhibition at Artists Space last summer. Pairs of slender silver poles, set close together and running from floor to ceiling, supported monitors, giving the works a somewhat humanoid presence and stature. In Thighs, the effect is particularly pronounced: The two poles are formally echoed in actual thighs shown in close-up on a split-screen monitor set near to the ground; the limbs are mostly still but occasionally slip apart, revealing sunlight streaming between them. And there is another echo as well, abetted by the viewer’s orientation, looking south from the SoHo gallery to the place where a pair of towers used to stand.

This echo, however deliberate, introduces a somber note to Lloyd’s conflation of body, architecture, and artwork, a motif she examines from various angles. Sometimes, bodies behave more like buildings, as in Pavement, 2010, in which a pair of legs and feet remain static as the camera circles them. Elsewhere, structures behave like people. In Tower Block, 2011, a skyscraper repeatedly pokes into the frame from different directions, hiding, popping in, and scampering away in a manner that is frankly flirtatious. The monitors in these pieces are set at various heights, so spectators must adjust their stance each time they approach a work; this constant repositioning of the body draws viewers’ attention to their own presence in space, as does any encounter with a building or person.

Shirt, 2011, is the most visually puzzling work in the show. Two horizontal monitors show a slow sequence of views of a single still image. At first, many of the shots nearly obscured by whiteness, as if the image were erased or overexposed. Gradually, very gradually, more is revealed—vivid stripes and polka dots, in black and white—and eventually a line, some hair, a throat. The image depicts a man, and it is turned on its side. The combination of patterns he wears seems frenetic in comparison to the stillness of the views and the slowness of their progression. The image is very evidently posed, and in the context of the other works here, it brings to mind billboards on the sides of stores and apartment buildings—situations in which body and building nearly become one. The body in Shirt may have begun as an actual human body, but through a progression of steps—in which it is photographed for an advertisement, reprinted in a magazine, filmed and displayed on a monitor—it becomes another kind of structure altogether. Likewise, in Canada Square, 2010, the camera slides frictionlessly up and down a facade; the surface of the building—like the surface of the photographed body in Shirt—appears to merge with the surface of the monitor. According to the rules of Lloyd’s spare universe, nothing is either/or: Buildings may be as delicate as bodies, and bodies as monumental as buildings.

Emily Hall