Fitzroy Gallery is pleased to announce Devour, a solo exhibition of new work by Michelle Elzay, the artist’s first at the gallery. The exhibition is comprised of two video works and a sound piece alongside 12 photographs. The artworks in Devour consider what it is to consume and to be consumed; the physical act of devouring is used to touch upon the longing inherent in psychological obsession or conversely dread and fear of being consumed or used. The most extreme fear is that of being eaten.
Minimalist photographs of barrier materials - pigeon spikes, razor and barbed wire contrast more lush still lives of animals and fruit, and are given texture by Elzay’s practice of photographing with film. The pictures are arranged tableaux which create a sensual beauty that hints at danger - ethereal razor wire, delicate 18th century Meissen porcelains of sparrow hawks that are in the act of consuming their prey.
According to Edmund Burke the sublime is regarded as an obscure source of danger. It may cause a greater degree of fear than if it is regarded as a clear source of danger. A source of danger may seem to be more fearful if it is obscure. Fear and terror can also be caused by a sense of sublime power, or by a dread of something indefinite or unknown which threatens the individual with pain, injury, or annihilation.
This sense of the sublime is reiterated in Elzay’s video works. Virtus junxit mors mon separabit is a single video projection of seagulls in a mid-air frenzy. The cut is a 2 channel video in which decorative artist Penelope Austin is seen severing the artist’s hair off with a knife. 1941 is a found sound recording transcribed from a series of 78 records of former child actress Ursula Nest, the artist’s grandmother. These recordings were created in Berlin in early 1941 when Nest was 24 years old, and are believed to have been used to procure work as an actor and performer. They were found dated, but otherwise unmarked, after her death.
Michelle Elzay was born in 1973, and lives and works in New York. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1995 and her M.F.A. from Columbia University in 1998. In 2007, she had a solo exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, and has exhibited in the US and Europe since 1997.
Devour will be on view March 2, 2013 through April 28, 2013 with an opening reception on Saturday, March 2 from 6 - 8pm.