British artist Hilary Lloyd’s first major exhibition in London in 10 years consisted of just five video works (all 2010)-a bold move, given the scale of Raven Row’s spa- cious, three-story premises, which allowed Lloyd’s use of video as a sculptural medium actively engaged with architectural space to come clearly to the fore.
Hardware was emphasized: wherever possible, the installation ensured that, upon entering each space, the viewer was confronted with the physical presence of the AV equipment and its support structures-sleek metal poles bearing flat-screen monitors, uniform ranks of DVD players and squadrons of projectors banked in tight formation-before seeing the imagery they generated.
Clear themes of masculinity, urban space and thwarted views ran through the show. Crane presents two versions of the same video clip-one second of footage of a crane against a night sky-looping out of sync in split screen. For Man, six projected images were made by a camera that vari- ously meandered and lingered in close-up over a magazine photo of a male underwear model. The camera’s gaze expressed a detached intimacy reminiscent of Warhol, and this was reinforced in other works by the juxtaposition of coolly sexual fashion stills with a highway overpass under construction or video footage taken from a car window. Thus, in its meditation on a singular object, Crane seems to riff on Warhol’s Empire. Further, the rhythmic clicking noise produced by Lloyd’s fast edit–as the crane snapped repeatedly across the screen like the hand of a misfiring stopwatch–suggests a countdown of Empire‘s 24-hour running time.
The sparse installation meant that a number of rooms were empty but for the sound from videos in adjacent rooms. Along with the electrical wires and metal poles parasitically attached to the building’s ceilings and floors, sound unified the space and drew the viewer through it.
This formal use of emptiness was mir- rored in Lloyd’s stripping down, in all these works, of her subject matter, paring it to the merest hint of content. In Trousers, for example, a male model appeared in an identical shot on two abutting projections, one on top of the other. Now more cropped, now less, now turned on its head or bleached out to near-invisibility, the image was almost incidental, a cipher bereft of meaning. Here, as throughout Lloyd’s work, imagery becomes a site where emptiness is allowed to unfold in its full and unsettling complexity.
Photo: View of Hilary Lloyd’s video installation Man, 2010; at Raven Row.