Meghan Boody Reviewed in Artnews
Our exhibition of Meghan Boody's The Lighthouse and How She Got There (November 6 — December 18, 2008) has been reviewed and is included in the February 2009 issue of ARTnews. Enjoy Gerard Haggerty's keen observations on her work in the full review text below:
Anthologized under the title "The Lighthouse and How She Got There," these artfully manipulated digital photographs are large in size and lofty in ambition. Boody's panoramic images, pieced together from a vast array of other pictures, are seamless and unashamedly literary.
Each work — chapter, if you will — derives its name from the opening lines of a 19th-century novel. Night is generally my time for walking (2006) borrows its title as well as its fiery backdrop from Charlotte Brönte's Jane Eyre. Clutching a shawl about her shoulders, a solitary barefoot girl stands in front of a burning mansion. As she gazes out from the picture, apparently oblivious to the conflagration behind her, she seems acutely aware of the viewer's presence.
Boody's work invites comparison with Max Ernst's set of surreal collages, "Une Semaine de Bonté." Both Boody and Ernst cut and paste Victoriana, and both subscribe to Coleridge's theory that the imagination assembles familiar material in unfamiliar ways. But whereas Ernst's work is graphic and deliberately antique in character, Boody's is cinematic and of the moment, with sly, state-of-the-art special effects, souped-up color, and flawless makeup for the child star who wanders from picture to picture, often through dangerous terrain.
This delicate waif inhabits the realm of melodrama — not soap opera, but rather the theatrical form that literary critic Eric Bentley called "the naturalism of the dream life." A wealth of sharp-focused details enhances the photographs' dreamy aspect and underscores their Pre-Raphaelite mood. Boody walks a fine line between sentiment and sentimentality, leavening the work with ironical ornate frames that include an eye embedded in the molding — an eye about to wink.