Magazine article Artforum International

Charles Ledray

Magazine article Artforum International

Charles Ledray

Article excerpt

To the art world's chronic Brobdingnagism, Charles LeDray opposes his own private Lilliput of handmade, obsessively detailed, and generally twee objects. This show of his recent efforts featured tiny garments (like Becoming/Mister Man |all works 1992~, a checked suit about the size of a one-year-old) and larger works made of tiny garments (like Untitled/Web, a web made of various Ken-and-Barbie-sized clothes). However, these Lilliputian duds are no play clothes. LeDray uses scale like the sculptor of an ancient Mesopotamian relief: big means powerful, tiny means vulnerable. In The Men in the Family, a pile of male clothes lies on the floor. Each item is of a different scale: Ken-sized jeans (complete with worn knees), baby-sized trousers, boy-sized briefs, man-sized boxer shorts, Jolly Green Giant-sized black-leather belt. What's going on here? Men and boys without their underwear? Incest? While there is no obvious narrative, the black belt with its gold buckle is so obscenely large that it necessarily calls to mind spanking, bondage, and punishment. You don't get the sense that this is good, clean, consensual S/M, either.

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. …

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