Last week, before heading off to Venice for the Biennale, I made my way down the street to Artists Space to take a look at Hilary Lloyd’s first U.S. solo show. I missed her show last year at Raven’s Row in London and was intrigued to see how Lloyd, a 2011 Turner Prize nominee, would make use of Artists Space’s loftlike, light-filled galleries.
Lloyd has been creating installations with videos, photographs, slide projectors and ambient sound since 1993. Her work has evolved from filming DJs, club kids, waiters and car washers to her more recent proto-structuralist explorations of light, architecture, advertising and movement.
The first thing one notices upon entering the sparsely installed gallery is the way Lloyd has hung the monitors throughout the space. For several years, she has been working closely with the industrial supply company Unicol to design braces, stands, trolleys and other gear to hold the monitors, projectors and flat screens used in her installations. At Artists Space, Lloyd has intentionally placed the seven monitors throughout the room at different heights, suspended from the ceiling with specially designed column mounts, or, in one case, supported by a trolley.
Her interest in, as she says, “eroticizing” the equipment-making it just as much a part of the installation as the videos themselves-reminds me of Simon Starling’s elaborate looped film projector in the 2009 Venice Biennale, as well as of a cleaned up, minimalist version of a Jason Rhoades or Jon Kessler piece.
Lloyd’s new work foregrounds the “objectness” of the filmic image in unexpected ways. Shirt starts out as two monochrome white screens. Patient viewing slowly reveals a man, and then a shirt, coming into and out of focus. The images come from an unidentified advertisement pulled from a magazine. Lloyd filmed the ad in her London studio, as the sun shined in through the window, alternately illuminating and obscuring parts of the page. Here a comparison to Chris Marker’s seminal film La Jetée (1962), composed from still images, seems apt, as both Lloyd and Marker force the viewer to confront the constructed nature of time in film.
In the two-screen piece Moon, Lloyd’s camera tracks, from inside her studio, the path of the moon as it passes behind a clock tower. This vignette is shown in 21 slightly vibrating frames on each screen, set to a soundtrack of ambient street noise (sirens, kids playing, people smoking). Here Lloyd finds a way to create frisson by establishing a perceptible disconnect between interior and exterior space, and individual and social experiences.
The other videos in the exhibition deal either with the built environment and architecture (Shard, Tower Block and Canada Square) or with legs (Thighs and Pavement). In the architectural works, Lloyd uses buildings as characters that poke into and out of the frame. Thighs is a split-screen image of the sun shining through the space between a man’s legs, subverting the traditional “crotch shot.” And lastly, in the most decidedly personal of the videos, is a self-portrait of sorts. Standing outside on the pavement, Lloyd films her feet and legs, panning from left to right and back again. The pendulumlike action of the camera creates the illusion of motion but alas-like many of the other pieces in this exhibition-we are left with a heightened sense of the fact that we are standing still, and that’s no small feat.
Above: View of Hilary Lloyd’s video installation at Artists Space, showing Moon, left, and Shirt, right, both 2011. Courtesy Sadie Coles, London.