Mary Hill in “SomeTimeApart” at Commonwealth and Council
Mary Hill shows two bodies of work in SomeTimeApart, titled Figure Drawing I through III, and Power Bottom I through IV, along with a group of give-away Risograph prints. (Risograph is an ink-based duplication system using a master, or stencil.) The prints reproduce in 11 x 17 inch format side by side pages, possibly from a figure drawing book, of a male and a female figure. The woman is nude, the man wears a white jock. The models are posed on rectangular and cube-shaped bases. The effect of these photos is something like illustrations from Joy of Sex: anodyne, yet erotic with sweet charm; human rather than idealized; on the verso are printed quotes, such as “I know a power bottom when I fuck one.” and “And you can never touch a girl in the same way more than once.”
Figure Drawing I, II, and III use these Risograph prints with added color Xeroxing. Here, a pair of hands is photographed while holding the initial prints, and the hands are emphasized through repetition. These images are layered in a way that makes me think each is done with a separate pass through the Risograph printer. The layers make a direct reference to time: each passage through the cylinder is indicated. The multiple presence of the hands refer to another sort of time, to the time in my head, where I imagine the artist holding and considering the pages again and again; I can also imagine myself, looking down and finding my hands doing the same thing. This is conceptually sweet in a way that mirrors the sweetness of the original images. Relative innocence as a strategy feels right for these post-jaded times.
I can imagine drawing as a way of encompassing a thing by articulating it with one’s body; looking at Hill’s Power Bottom sculptures makes me think of drawing in this way – not the artist drawing, but the models, each drawing their body by its absence. I also imagine my own body making, and filling these impressions; the work invites this physical empathy. I imagine touching the wet clay of the molds. I wonder whether the process was long or brief. As my eye wanders, I am distracted by the novelty of having a vagina. I cannot piece these impressions together. It’s as though the only time that is traceable in this piece are the moments of touch: the model touches the clay, the artist touches the cast that results – and remember too the Risograph, as it touches the paper. It’s interesting to me that I wonder about the intention of the models. As they each held their bodies in place, were they inhabiting a role? How does one fill the space of a job description like, “Put your X there, and push it into this wet plaster till it dries.” The models’ bodies are nearly palpable, and there is an emotional presence, as well. I think these sculptures speak eloquently in their abbreviated physicality and total muteness.
I notice that some of the impressions in the sculptures match poses by the models in the original figure drawing studies, and this offers me a focus for my query about acting: did the models know the reference?
The hands in Figure Drawing remind me of the human parts in the Power Bottom sculptures. The hands are active, if frozen on paper: they hold, they present; they are also active in that they invite me to identify with them, to look upon them as my own; further, they indicate time: repeated instances of holding cannot have happened at once. Impressions of disembodied parts in the sculptures similarly defy time. In these Risograph prints the hands appear as holders of pages being reproduced, and they appear again and again; I forget about the holding and think instead of the artist’s consideration of her work: looking over time, in different lights and in different moods. My mind flashes on an image of hands, rising like birds from Hill’s sculptures to land on these prints.