Archive for the ‘Celebrity’ Category

Billy Bob and My Devotion Hit Rock Bottom

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

…momentarily at least. I can’t make promises in matters of the heart.

I’m tempted to put this in the “Horror” category. It is a sign of true friendship when your friends call to report the love of your life has crossed a line. I have very good friends, but some things I’d rather not know.

jillian mcdonald

I was alerted today not only by CBC Radios’ Q Facebook group but by myriad friends in Canada, the UK, and the US that my special someone starred in a new bad boy role today, and not in a good way. Bad boy is one thing – grumpy is another.

With heavy heart I report Billy Bob Thornton, interviewed on CBC’s Q today, has slightly fallen from my favour. I guess it was only a matter of time – 2009 marks seven years after Mr Thornton first set my heart aflutter.

The interview is here if you care to watch. I can’t bear it myself so I won’t embed the video. Note Mr Thornton “lumps” Canadian audiences into the descriptor “mashed potatos without gravy”, and then walks out on his own performance sans southern charm and with his fellow band members left to fill in the blanks, themselves as lively as zombies – the slow kind. Jian Ghomeshi, our host, doesn’t know what to make of the crew’s uber-melancholia.

The thousands of comments floating around on Facebook, Q’s blog, and Youtube, to name a few, grasp for explanations: drugs, depression, Hollywood arrogance, doomed acting career, “band as celebrity vanity project”, rudeness, etc.

For my part, I believe if BB had called me all those years ago, he might be a happier man today. Just sayin’…

Love among the Ruins (the Zombies and the Vampires)

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

forest malmo

Last week I had a planning session with the fabulous Lilith Performance Studio for an upcoming forest performance in Malmö, Sweden. After 3 days and nights amidst the dark blueish pines, swamps, and mossy hills I am having trouble adjusting to New York’s nakedness. Thinking of doing some guerrilla planting, if the spring ever comes: it snowed yesterday, briefly.

On the plane I was unable to resist viewing the almost unwatchable and aforementioned Twilight. No doubt the tiny airplane screen did not do the sweeping Pacific Northwest forest scenes justice, and I confess I am no screaming teenage fan, but for the life of me this story of forbidden love among the vampires screams of cliché.

The “nice” vampires including our perpetually pouting hero happily inhabit, for the moment, a posh glass house sans coffins in rural Washington State, where avoiding full sunlight is unnecessary (since most days are grey and since the sunlight doesn’t kill them anyway), vampire dad dons the guise of preppy local doctor, and everyone is terribly attractive if well beyond the pale…

According to IMDB, “A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire” not the least of which is any hope of being independent. She goes willingly into the role of princess in utter distress and the movie ends with Bella, our damsel, doomed to be protected by her “hero” forever. Only he, and his extended family, can save her from the vampire bad guy and his own monstrous desires. Now that’s progress.

On the plus side, for the first time ever I enjoyed watching baseball played on screen, since vampiric forces make anything more exciting.

sarah jane

I Love Sarah Jane, on the other hand, is an Australian micro film about lust in the time of zombies. As you may know, zombies are at the other side of the class scale. We find Zombie dad in this case tied up in a wrecked suburban backyard, snarling at a skinny shirtless teenage boy who taunts him.

Sarah Jane herself is no ingénue. She emerges from a dark and claustrophobic living room to put the lusting teenage Jimbo – the subject of the film’s title, a mess of bullies, and her eventually (spoiler alert!) chain-sawed dad out of their misery by the end of the film … some with a heavy shovel, sealing her position as no-nonsense heroine and the far from innocent love interest extraordinaire, with a sense of very dark humour.

I Had My Facebook Portrait Painted by Matt Held

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

matt held jillian mcdonald

Listening to the archives of my favourite radio show, Q, today I caught an interview with authors Lianne George and Steve Maich, whose book The Ego Boom talks about “The You Sell”. Advertisers and marketers no longer tell us we’re not good enough / beautiful enough / thin enough and therefore need their products to become better, but rather affirm we are perfect the way we are and nevertheless need these products to maintain our perfection. Because kids are taught that everything they do is special and excellent, narcissism and a responsibility-deficient culture suffuses the generation.

An article titled, Enough About Me. Like My Portrait? Appeared in The New York Times a few days ago, suggesting that Hollywood figures who commission their own portraits are narcissistic, though they sometimes feel guilty or awkward about displaying the results. But is everyone who has their portrait painted a narcissist, in an age where we can and often do take any number of photographic portraits, and even Photoshop ourselves into perfection?

I don’t consider myself a narcissist, although I appear in a lot of my own artwork. And although I’ve known many musicians, writers, and artists I have never before been the subject of any one else’s artwork, poem, story, or song. To the best of my knowledge. Which is probably a good thing. Unless you count Mike Peter’s Stolen Kisses, which I would count except that the subject is arguably not me, but rather the character I play in my video, Screen Kiss.

A longtime proponent of participation-based artwork, particularly when the participant gains something in the process in a generous gesture by the artist, I read with interest some press about painter Matt Held’s Facebook portrait project earlier this month. I joined his Facebook group, “I’ll have my Facebook portrait painted by Matt Held”. Held’s portraits in general are absurd, unlike the typical Hollywood portraits – there’s self-assured Angie in a blue fun fur bird-monster suit; bald Ardalan licking a larger-than-life pink ice cream; and wide-eyed Jessica drinking a glass of wine bigger than her head. But more that that, his project opens up portrait painting to ordinary people, his “friends” – real and virtual. At the moment I’m writing this, the group has 2,100 members, most of whom – unless Matt donates the rest of his life to the project – may never see their portraits. Somehow I got lucky – you can see my portrait above and the original photo avec Billy Bob tattoos, below.

Visit Matt Held’s website for more info, and join his group quick, while there’s still room.

jillian mcdonald billy bob tattoos

SCREAM in Saskatoon

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

scream billboard

In Saskatoon at the moment it is minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius, a temperature that deserves more than a tiny number in order that you can savour it, contemplate it, or at least try to fathom it. Luckily we humans have very little capacity for recalling pain which is why, in the words of my undergraduate art school professor Sharon Alward, people can live in extremely cold places like Winnipeg or Saskatoon year after year without going insane*. While minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius is reason enough to evoke screams in many people, it scares neither me nor Jo-Anne Balcaen – my billboard project collaborator and friend from Montréal. Jo-Anne and I were actually born within hours of one another and grew up separately in Winnipeg**, but that aside is another story of which I will spare you the details. The daunting temperature also doesn’t scare David LaRiviere, director of Paved Arts who facilitated and helped tremendously to oversee our two-person show.

Scream opens January 16th – come see it if you dare. There will be screaming. You have been warned. The billboard is silent but it requires 3-D glasses – available at the gallery.

scream billboard

From the press release, “Scream is a two-person video installation and collaborative billboard presentation. While Jo-Anne Balcaen studies the scream from the perspective of ecstasy, Jillian Mcdonald approaches the same subject as a device in horror films. The exhibition project arises from the affinity that the artists recognize in each other’s work, and is thus culminated from an ongoing, long-distance creative dialog.

Jillian Mcdonald’s video work entitled The Screaming challenges the horror movie genre’s damsel in distress by inverting the power dynamics and charging the scream with a potency that overcomes any would-be menace…. Jo-Anne Balcaen’s Screaming Girls appropriates famous film images of teen-aged girls enraptured by rock ‘n’ roll performance. Stripped of sound, Balcaen’s subtle manipulation of this familiar pop adulation becomes a study of mass hysteria, oddly foreign to any kind of rationale that Beatlemania may have once produced.”

*Keep in mind these are select few people, you may not want to attempt this yourself.

**According to Wikipedia, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was −47.8 °C (−54.0 °F), on December 24, 1879. The coldest wind chill reading ever recorded was −57.1 °C (−70.8 °F), on February 1, 1996. I was not alive in 1879, but I’ll point out that the last winter I lived in Winnipeg was 1996.

American Hardcore’s Cameo Appearance

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

american hardcore

A few nights ago I watched American Hardcore, a documentary film about the hardcore scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I didn’t ever consider myself a hardcore fan but did listen to the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and especially Bad Brains. I just didn’t know they were a scene, or what it was about – I listened to it after it was over. The film is good, and gives a nationwide perspective on the nuanced scene – from San Diego to New York and Boston to Washington. It even credits Vancouverites for coining the term “Hardcore” – go Canada!

Somewhere along the line was a 6-second or less spot featuring artist Matthew Barney as himself, who as far as I can tell was not in the hardcore scene (he was 16 when it pretty much fizzled out in 1983). He is given billing as one of the film’s stars, and his reason for being in the film is strangely not explained via Lower Thirds. Band members, their friends, promoters, journalists, and a photographer who documented the scene all figure prominently. Barney seems plopped in without any context. He grew up in Idaho, a state which didn’t figure prominently in Hardcore, and the scene’s violence and angst seem at odds with Barney’s public profile of football player – turned J. Crew model – turned sculptor. As far as I can tell, his only relationshp with it is from Cremaster 3‘s scene in which 2 hardcore bands battle while Barney climbs through the Guggenheim. Frankly his entrance into the film was so distracting that I didn’t pay attention to the next few minutes while I waited to comprehend what had just happened. Once a star, always a star.

Speaking of Matthew Barney, New York artist Eric Doeringer has a funny mock fan site called Cremaster Fanatic which I always secretly want to call “Cremaster Fantastic”.

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

Staring Contest

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

image

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.

Strange Beauty

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

josie mccoy painting

Josie McCoy is a painter who divides her time between London and Valencia, Spain. Beckley and I met her in 2006 in Valencia when she introduced us to far better cuisine than we were able to find on our own, and a deceptively alcoholic orange cocktail called Waters of Valencia. Her paintings are stunning, beautiful, and eerily unsettling – watery cyan flesh mimics the haunting glow of the TV screen. They memorialize the glamourous beauty of screen actresses that seems at once temporary, translucent and as artificial as painting itself. These perfect close-up moments where ripe red lips, expression-filled eyes, and flawless skin prevail is how the star struck remember their screen idols – far from the trashy paparazzi shots in supermarket tabloids.

Visit Josie’s website for more images. The recent painting above, of Sun Kwon, from ABC’s “LOST”.

Squeezing in Nick Cave

Friday, March 7th, 2008

nick cave

Between a long train ride to Baltimore’s MICA yesterday, and today’s fog-delayed flight to Chicago where I’m working at Three Walls Gallery, Beckley and I saw Nick Cave perform last night in New York. After a week of 5:30am risings, and on the eve of another, I literally dragged myself to the event, but Cave’s performance was rousing and super fun. Nick’s sporting a 70′s moustache these days, which you can see in the stunning detail rendered by my cellphone. In the photo the spectacle looks like Niagara Falls at night – both astonishing forces even after all these years.

Billy Bob stage act

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Billy Bob

I really hope BB is playing the role of a Vegas performer and isn’t on the Las Vegas circuit himself. I’m not sure what to make of this photo, grabbed from the interwebs, it’s too disturbing.

>>update, February 24: This is a photo of Billy Bob in his new band The Boxmasters which in live performance conjures television variety shows and electric hillbilly music.