lilly mcelroy: i throw myself at men + locations.

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

Via SwissMiss


  1. eye_snap says:

    she really is awesome…

  2. daniel B says:

    LOVE IT!!!!!

  3. I want to do this

  4. mullygrub says:

    this is great. I really like “locations”, and have not seen it before. I understand your compulsion to make sure she doesn’t get run over etc. when discovering that the photos were taken in public places.

  5. I love her too. And that you love her. Total awesomeness all around.

  6. master says:

    q mierda es esto?

    no me venga a decir que es arte… que asco de arte

  7. “When not dismissed as absurd, my actions were responded to with anger; re-emphasizing the fact that public behavior has become highly restricted”.

    I don’t think this is the case; lying on the floor in a nightdress has never really been acceptable, so it’d been much more scandalous in the past.

  8. aditya mukherjee says:

    they’re beautiful…i can see why you love her :)..

    i do think though, that she reaches the wrong conclusion in:
    “When not dismissed as absurd, my actions were responded to with anger; re-emphasizing the fact that public behavior has become highly restricted”.

    I think a more accurate conclusion would be, (adult) people behave with hostility or fear or indifference to situations that are unexpected and not evidentally to their advantage. This would be an expected instinct in animals. Kids are curious, but by the time an animal grows up, it is supposed to have enough data for a consistent world view. When something happens that is against that world view, they will be alarmed, or try to ignore it. They will only change their world view if overwhelming evidence appears to the contrary.

    Of course it makes things boring, and people quite stupid, especially since in modern day life curiosity is more useful than that reaction. In the wild though, it can be imagines that the opposite was true.

  9. fivehusbands says:

    I love this – given my history I am thinking one of these should be hanging in my bedroom.

  10. Zara says:

    i love this so much. like, SO much.
    kind of different from how i go about throwing myself at men, eh jer?
    keep up the amazing, phenomenal, fantastic work love.

  11. I really really like this! I saw it a few weeks ago, but you have much more images of it.


  1. […] ( I think that Alanis Morrisette look-a-like who found Johan Saturdaynight should take a look at the wonderful work of Lilly Mcleroy…) but today was the day of Patricia’s five minutes of fame. That is the statement she drafted […]

  2. […] photographers: here is a similar visual fascination with seeing the human body in mid-air, like in Lilly McElroy’s “I Throw Myself At Men”, but now it’s taking place inside the sort of universally ubiquitous, flourescent-filled, […]

  3. […] Lilly McElroy This lady is pretty awesome. I would say what she does is performance art, mixed with still art. As she throws herself at strangers and takes a picture while doing it. […]

  4. […] captured reactions from this sort of performance art. No charge for admission, you just need to be strong enough to catch her and hold on to […]

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