One Work: Elaine Cameron-Weir’s “Dressing for Windows/Dressing for Altitude/Dressing for Pleasure”

Dressing for Windows/Dressing for Altitude/Dressing for Pleasure (2022), part of Elaine Cameron-Weir’s current exhibition at Hannah Hoffman in Los Angeles, is a simple arrangement of found objects hooked up to a rig of chains, cables, and pulleys. A bronze statue of the Virgin Mary and a fighter-jet seat bereft of cushions or seatbelts anchor a contraption that hoists a strip of metal mesh. There, a leather jacket, like Christ on the cross, hangs front and center. All of this is within Cameron-Weir’s established vocabulary—militaria, dangling garments, old and new metal, things bound and suspended—and appears both clinical and operatic. Is this contrivance of tethers and equipment a mere stage for the trio of symbolically loaded items (jacket, ejector seat, Virgin), or should it be taken for a system of some sort? The sculpture’s effect depends on such tensions: between stasis and movement, heft and lift, generic and specific, and, above all, materials as such and their connotations.

Put another way, this is the difference between the title and the materials list. Cameron-Weir has eschewed an exhibition text, and in that expository vacuum, these two little texts shoulder newfound significance. From the latter you learn that the jacket hangs by meat hooks on a conveyor belt and that Mary sits on a stainless-steel barrel cart. In contrast to the solidity and specificity of these repurposed things, the title enacts a kind of free association, as if flitting through several possible and equally valid options. This could be an exercise in style, a window display where the centerpiece is a flight jacket, or a bit of BDSM gear (“dressing for pleasure” being an old fetish slogan). But none of it sticks, and the work isn’t so much about the military-industrial-Catholic-kink complex as the interplay between vague evocations of meaning and the cold hard facts of material.

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