Whereas Jonathan Swift satirized Lilliput from the point of view of Gulliver (i.e. the big guy), LeDray takes up the viewpoint of the small fry, and it's not funny anymore. Sometimes it's pathetic: the very deliberate disfigurement of a stuffed animal (its face sewn to its leg, its leg to its arm, etc.) looks like an act of spite on the part of the little guy, hurting something even more powerless than himself. At other times, the work is confrontational and accusatory. Nazis are the only authority figures explicitly invoked by any of these pieces. "Hitler had 1 big ball/Goring had 2 but they were small/Himmler had something similar/Goebbels had no balls at all" is the ditty inscribed on Untitled/Hitler, a sort of crudely carved walking stick (or club, maybe). Is it any coincidence that Untitled/Hitler is the only piece in the show really scaled to normal human proportions? (It's 36 inches tall, just the right height for a walking stick.) Are we gallery-goers part of a master race, closer in height to Hitler than to LeDray's 14-inch men's suits?
By drawing comparisons between viewers and fascists, LeDray heightens the dreadful sense of oppression immanent in his artworks. (Am I a big critic exploiting a little artist?) The astonishingly meticulous attention that he lavishes on details (like the teeny-weeny "DRY CLEAN" tag on the suit of Becoming/Mister Man) starts to look less compulsive than compulsory. Art as slave labor. In another work, Untitled/Clothesline, LeDray sews together tiny garments to make a clothesline. However, it was hung not laterally (like a line on which to dry clothing) but vertically, from the ceiling to the floor of the gallery. It was more like a makeshift rope fashioned in a desperate bid to escape. Unfortunately, there weren't any windows to climb out of.
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|Title Annotation:||Reviews; exhibit at Tom Cugliani, New York City|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1993|
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