Archive for the ‘Art’ Category


Friday, May 23rd, 2008

From my northern location I am surprised to discover that I cannot access my usual crack dose of web version TV episodes. Lost, for one, blocks those of us attempting to peek from non-American soil.

Speaking of Lost and obsession – if I wasn’t speaking about it I was certainly thinking about it – check out Lostpedia (spoiler warning).

While surfing to the tune of other distractions, I happily came across CBC radio’s archived Q podcasts, hosted by the smooth-voiced Jian Ghomeshi. Billed as “your daily dose of arts and culture”, Q is a boisterous programme. Contemporary art, music, sports, food, tv, pop-culture, science, books, design, sex – it’s chock full of all the good stuff. I dare you to listen to just one.

Review in Art Papers!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

art papers

Virginia B. Spivey wrote a detailed and wonderful article about Fanatic, my recent show in Richmond Virginia, just published in the May/June issue of Art Papers magazine of contemporary art.

Writes Spivey, “The engagement of audience is one of the greatest strengths of McDonald’s work. In addition to its use of humor and physical involvement of the viewer, the work also enlists interactive platforms that reach beyond the confines of the artworld, such as the Internet. In this way McDonald’s work builds a community of fans – people united by their shared experience and interest in her art.”

1708 Gallery posted a copy here, but I highly recommend purchasing the magazine now and in the future. Art Papers has come a long way under editor Sylvie Fortin’s creative team. It’s smart, international, and the only magazine I read cover to cover.

Calling all Zombies, from Québec

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

zombie masthead

Through June 4, I’m at La Chambre Blanche in the beautiful and rainy Québec City working on a website to provide info about and invite participation in my upcoming horror-themed smart mob performances. For example, Zombies in Condoland, a night long performance at La Nuit Blanche in Toronto. The masthead is the work-in-progress fruit of tonight’s labour.

I was at La Chambre Blanche in January 2002 for a similar residency. I fell in love with the city then and it remains my favourite Canadian city for simply walking around. Today I watched a thin sliver of orange sunset between the grey clouds and the horizon below my feet from the vantage point of the haute ville. Wandering the crooked little streets I found the windows as I remembered them – with open blinds showing every room filled with warm light, books, and gardens of potted plants. Maybe I’m romanticizing but either Canada really is amazing or there’s no place like home.

Scientific Observer

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

justine cooper

Justine Cooper‘s new exhibition Terminal at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery is not for the faint of heart. Juxtaposing her decade-old video and installation titled Rapt with colour photographs of distressed medical mannequins from 2008, the show considers the body pictured through science.

Rapt features animated imagery of the artist’s real body, expressed via black and white MRI imaging slices, and takes the viewer on a surreal tour of her interior in cross-section. Stripped of humanity and outward signs, this body seems more meat than person, more imaging data than flesh, more avatar than Justine.

Conversely, the obviously artificial bodies of medical mannequins Wilbur, Sally, and friends, subjects of the recent photographs, are positioned in naturalistic throes of physical trauma. On a gurney with a mass of tubes set to extrude or intrude; in a post-childbirth semi-shock; or in agony with bullets lodged in gaping head and chest wounds – they seem somewhat human despite the overwhelming lack of blood. Though such mannequins exist for medical practitioners to sharpen their skills, their rubbery masks, bad wigs and unblinking eyes suggest Michael Myers from Halloween, Chucky from Child’s Play, Cindy Sherman‘s portraits with doll parts and prosthetics, post-traumatic reconstructive surgery, strange hybrids, and mutation in the case of poor Sally whose baby face came off to expose her mouth hole, lidless eyes, and strange insect-like thorax.

Cooper’s previous works, including Havidol and Saved By Science also investigate science – specifically pharmacology and scientific classification. Her complex aestheticized subjects include questionable practices such as marketing techniques favoured by the pharmaceutical industry, and the collection of animal parts that not only educate scientists but leech the natural world.

pictured above, Sally.

Superfan in Vancouver

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Third Avenue Gallery

My solo show in Vancouver opened at Third Avenue Gallery on May 1, and will run through May 31. Minutes by foot from Granville Island, Third Avenue was awash in pink from blossoming trees all last week.

Including work from the past five years which can best be described as culture-jamming, the exhibition also features 2 new videos, Superfan and Staring Contest with Brad Pitt. I finished editing the latter a couple of hours before the show opened, the video equivalent of hanging a wet painting. The sweat was dripping from my brow.

Third Avenue Gallery
Third Avenue Gallery

From the press release:
Superfan stars Jillian Mcdonald riding in vehicles with costars Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent Gallo, and Donald Sutherland. Despite their attempts at conversation, the trio of male leads cannot shake her concentration on the Superbowl game. Staring Contest with Brad Pitt finds Mcdonald and Hollywood’s leading heartthrob locked in an endless gaze of a familiar childhood game. In To Vincent with Love“Mcdonald inserts herself digitally into scenes from Vincent Gallo’s film Buffalo 66” playing the ingénue opposite his socially awkward male lead. In Me and Billy Bob, she digitally manipulates romantic scenes from Hollywood films starring actor Billy Bob Thornton, creating a soft critique of celebrity obsession.”

Thank you to Michael Bjornson and Camille Graham for all their support and hard work on the installation!

Third Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue GalleryThird Avenue Gallery

Searching for Vulva

Saturday, April 26th, 2008


According to Mint, the web stats application I use, the most popular search term that brings people to my site, following various right and wrong spellings of my name, is “Vulva”. Considering there is only 1 mention of Vulvas on my site – the above intervention titled “Auto Sex Change Operations” for which I placed “Vulva” stickers on hundreds of parked Volvos in New York City years ago, I can only conclude that people are searching far and wide to expose the vulvas.

Ode to a Prairie town; and Doing it, bug-style

Saturday, April 26th, 2008


The Tribeca Film Festival’s screening 2 nights ago of Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg was delightful – particularly enhanced by his own live narration in Winnipeg twang, and paired with Isabella Rosellini’s hilariously funny Green Porno micro-shorts describing the bizarre sexual practices of common bugs. She plays the costumed male of each species as well as various hermaphrodites, and is subjected to all manner of physical trauma. The low tech effects are enchanting. Beckley and I agreed that these should be shown to kids, and also would work well in a gallery installation. Rick Gilbert, Green Porno‘s producer who I recognized from somewhere (Winnipeg, it turns out), told me they have been trying various configurations as they tour the work. Stay tuned for her second series featuring sea creatures!

Maddin’s signature blurry style of a bygone era in endless snow grace this documentary/travelogue of our shared prairie home town. Its highlights include a hockey match between historical hockey greats amidst the wrecking ball demolition of their beloved arena; a reenactment of Maddin’s childhood living room complete with dead father exhumed like a mound of dirt beneath the carpet; a steamy coming-of age in arena locker rooms and the subterranean levels of a public pool; and Golden Boy pageantry in the otherwise dull and fading Paddlewheel family restaurant.

My favourite line references the newly erected MTS building looking “like a zombie in a cheap new suit” where Canada’s iconic Eaton’s department store once proudly stood. I’ve been away from home for a long long time – thanks for the memories, however self-deprecating.

A Late (not-so-great) Biennial

Saturday, April 26th, 2008


I finally saw the Whitney Biennial last weekend – between traveling madly and pneumonia, who had time? According to the Whitney’s website, The Biennial “characterizes the state of American art today”: some of the artists are repeat inclusions, some don’t live in The U.S., and the show is void of new media work. Hmmm.

The only work on a computer that I noticed used an ibook to display a slide show about a character and the text of a book. The computer was a strange choice and decidedly irrelevant.

There are a few good works. Conceptual artist Walead Beshty‘s shatterproof glass boxes made to fit into Fed Ex boxes and sent are fascinating, especially those that had shattered, their shards precariously hanging. Beshty’s low brow investigative travel photos subjected to Xray damage are smart too.

Phoebe Washburn’s self-sufficient Gatorade golf ball flower factory-slash-ecosystem is weird and compelling. Mike Smith’s photos of himself in Sears studio portraits with his students are characteristically ridiculous. Stephen Prina’s installation of recorded singing, dirty carpet, weird pink light, and home decorating tile is nauseating and addicting. I had the sense that I might be lulled to poisonous sleep à la The Wizard of Oz‘s dreamy poppy field. Mika Rottenberg’s installation Cheese, though seriously (pun intended) less humourous than her previous works in the same circular homespun style such as Tropical Breeze and Mary’s Cherries, is nevertheless visually lush and strange. Due to the farm setting and costuming of multiple young female subjects in long cotton dresses, the work is lent an accidental and tangible creepiness by the recent topical state seizure of 437 children from a Texas polygamist compound.

Otherwise the museum seems largely free of content, messy, forgettable, and almost entirely bland. I’ll take my art with much more humour, thank you.

Notes: I assumed the Whitney’s website would list work titles but I was wrong. It also lacks images of the work on display. Therefore I’ve left out titles I don’t know. I also missed the Armory installations which have completed their exhibition run.

Staring Contest

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008


Here’s a still from my new video, which is in progress for my show opening May 1 in Vancouver. It’s a Staring Contest, between Brad Pitt and yours truly. Brad’s performance as Death Incarnate from the film Meet Joe Black.

ThreeWalls show

Thursday, April 10th, 2008


Horror Stories, my new show at ThreeWalls in Chicago, opened on Friday. The Sparkling, an interactive video installation, is the highlight – shown above and below. The haunted chandelier gets eerier as visitors approach, a reference to chandeliers in films like The Amityville Horror, and also non-horror films like The War of the Roses. Thanks to the wonderful artists and administrators at ThreeWalls for all their support, especially Shannon, Lucy, Elizabeth, Andy, and Liz. Also to Josh Rose and Cesar Cornejo who helped me in New York with programming and putting together the chandelier.


Also on view are:

tv = evil

TV = Evil which juxtaposes little girls and TVs from Poltergeist and The Ring. Playing on a TV in a room all alone, it’s creepy.

vamp it up

Vamp it Up, a companion piece to Horror Make-up, filmed on the Chicago elevated train. More info about this work in my Performance section. Special thanks to Beckley Roberts and Liz Hood who secretly filmed these performances, and to Elizabeth for driving me half way around town in search of fangs, size XS.

everyone will suffer

Everyone Will Suffer, an animation featuring taglines recited from popular horror films and a low-fi animated country sunset.