Artist Lily McElroy plays with moments of fear, anxiety and excitement within much of her work. In The Square (After Roberto Lopardo), 2005, the artist defends her territory within a chalk outline of a square in downtown Chicago. The presence of the camera filming the artist’s situation is not hidden from the passersby. People on the street see the camera, they see the woman and as they get closer, even see the outline of the square. While some walk by and avoid connecting with the artist, others engage in her game, either by complying with her body and avoiding the square or testing her and trying to enter into her so-called personal space. At one point, another woman enters the square as a collaborator, helping McElroy defend the space. McElroy has said, “I like it when artists can maintain a sense of play and experimentation over a long career and allow themselves to make mistakes.” While the work is primarily conceptual, there is most certainly a sense of play, as the artist addresses the idea of protecting personal space literally.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.