One of the strongest characteristics of that outbreak of the reason and the imagination, of that assertion of the liberty of the heart … was its spirit of rebellion and revolt against the moral and religious ideas of the time. In their search after the pleasures of the senses and the imagination, in their care for beauty, in their worship of the body, people were impelled beyond the bounds of the Christian ideal; and their love became a strange idolatry, a strange rival religion.
-from Pater’s “The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry”
Over the years McGinley’s work has evolved from documenting reality toward creating settings where the situations are choreographed. The process of carefully staging and directing ‘happenings’, often in beautiful rural landscapes, is increasingly more cinematic in tone, while retaining the spontaneity of his early work. This particular series is perhaps the most cinematic yet. The photos have developed a surreal, action-film quality—people ricocheting through unknown spaces, a couple starting up at an apocalyptic sky, figures falling from trees in wet darkness. They’re dramatic and moody, full of storms and rushing rivers and night skies.
In yet another departure, McGinley has incorporated black-and-white and color studio portraits of nudes and animals interacting in sometimes sweet, sometimes surprising ways. The use of animals is another facet of McGinley’s exploration of the natural world. They bring out the animalistic qualities of the nude figure, and the scratches on the bodies signify our desire to commune with nature and the excitement and risks inherent therein.