Archive for the ‘Fans’ Category

Stolen Kisses – I love a surprise

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Mike Peters

My work in the past few years has been as much about fan subcultures and audiences as about the films they love. Fan fiction – where fans create new scenarios from familiar narratives, thus subverting them – captivates me.

I had dinner with friend and performance artist Carrie Dashow the other night and she slipped me a DVD that said “Play Me” (Alice in Wonderland style)- very sneakily I might add. I dropped it into my computer the next morning to find a fabulous surprise. One of her Purchase students, Mike Peters, made a video response to my work Screen Kiss following a recent lecture I gave. It is quite wonderful. What’s that quote about imitation and flattery?

Above is a still from Steal a Kiss. You can see a few more stills on his website – click on “Projects”, but sadly not the video itself. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair. Mike if you’re reading this – put the video online!


Update: Dec 20,
(originally posted as a comment from Mike Peters)

“Thank you, Jillian. I’m glad you liked it. Steal a Kiss is now online. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the server hosting my original site, but the video is on youtube. I’ll be working on a new web page in the near future. Until then…. for your fans:

Thanks again. Love your work.”

Slasher Fashion, and Knitted Zombies

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

slasher fashion

Joe Ryan, intern extraordinaire at The Headlands Center for the Arts, models his LRG “Friday the 47th Hoody”, haha. Lest you think the designer got the slashers mixed up, “wasn’t Leatherface the Chainsaw maniac?”, think again – this is progress. By the time Jason Voorhees gets to sequel #47, which if you are young enough may happen in your lifetime, he will figure out the effectiveness of power tools and leave his machete and axe behind. Big Daddy, lead zombie in George Romero’s Land of the Dead, used a jack hammer in 2005 to hurl his way through shopping mall glass where his 1978 predecessors in Dawn of the Dead merely pawed hungrily at the doors until they opened and they lumbered in. If a zombie can evolve, Jason can too. After all he went from wimpy preteen mamma’s boy to strapping youth to a hulk of a man in merely a decade.

He’s looking mighty powerful in this 1989 interview with Arsenio Hall to promote Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan:

slasher fashion

Check out the detail on the appliquéd chainsaws. The mask also detaches to reveal bloody drips inside the hood, if you don’t feel like wearing the slasher mask on a given day. This reminds me of a reversible Red Riding Hood/Granny/Big Bad Wolf doll of my childhood. And here I am in the dark foggy woods surprising myself by sleeping deeply and soundly not even afraid of big bad wolves.

Speaking of dolls and zombies, you might not expect someone who knits to be a horror fan, much less take horror as their craft subject. But knitting isn’t just for tea cozies and sweaters anymore! Ms. Hannah Simpson of the UK skillfully knits the cutest zombies I’ve seen – blood and maiming included – snuggle up with that!

knitted flyboy and fellow zombies

Knitted Flyboy and fellow zombies from Dawn of the Dead.

Visit her blog or see her Dawn of the Dead slideshow.

Wanted: Men for Slasher Cycle Video Shoot

Thursday, July 31st, 2008


MEN to participate in a video by Headlands Center for the Arts artist in residence Jillian Mcdonald. All men will be masked, therefore your identity may be kept anonymous if requested. Participants can be artists in residence, Headlands staff and interns, or visitors to the Center.


Slasher Cycle stars anti-heroes Michael Myers from Hallowe’en, Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th. The slasher is a sub-genre of horror film wherein a psychopathic, often masked, usually male killer stalks and murders many victims using weapons such as kitchen knives or chainsaws. These 4 films in particular had wildly popular runs from the 1970s and 80s through to the present, effectively transforming characters once viewed as frightening monsters into anti-heroes cheered on by audiences. In Slasher Cycle the four famous slashers stalk each other through the rooms of a house. There are no victims, no one is ever caught or killed. The characters are filmed separately, with a steadicam and from various angles.


I’m looking for men to play the slashers complete with facial masks and costumes. Makeup and shooting will take approximately 2 hours. No acting experience or knowledge of horror films necessary!
Contact: jmcdonald [at] jillianmcdonald [dot] net with any questions.


House on the Hill, Slashers, and Tattoos

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

house headlands

New work in progress:
This house, circa 1907 and originally a general’s, is the set for one of my new videos. I’m working out the details so I can shoot it in the coming weeks. Stay tuned: it stars Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees, as themselves. I’m looking for men to play the Slashers (sans any actual slashing), so if you’re in the area let me know.

While researching those slasher stars today I came across this strange phenomenon – tattoos of their visages on the bodies of many, all or mostly men from what I can tell:

Leatherface Tattoos
Freddy Tattoos
Jason Tattoos
Michael Tattoos

Why am I eternally surprised by the devotion of fans?

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”.

Horror Creature

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The Big Dog – begging to star in an upcoming horror film – is the latest Frankenstein Robot of Boston Dynamics. They also brought us DI Guy, (get it?) a human simulator that includes soldiers, vehicles and “men, women, and children with a wide range of cultural appearances” for your shooting pleasure. Among their major customers are the US Armed Forces, Ford, and Boeing.

Title This

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

better living through reality tv

The title Better Living Through Reality TV, by Laurie Ouellette and James Hay, drips of sarcasm in the ears of those like myself who inherently harbour suspicion of the media, especially TV and advertising.

I am not a fan of Reality TV programming, but I am interested in the enormous fan base and the genre as an example of expanded (though controlled) participatory viewing – the new model of media entertainment. I am also fascinated by the compulsion to participate in the game of voting, and the more complex game of contestant-hood, where the stakes are high and the 4th wall increasingly thin. The variety and discomfiture is enormous in Beauty and the Geek, Joe Millionaire, Tila Tequila, The Biggest Loser, and The Swan – to name just a fraction of Reality TV’s offerings, each upping the ante on the next.

Beyond voyeuristic impulses, viewers have long desired to participate, to be the star of TV drama – however tawdry and brief. Talk shows like Oprah and Phil Donahue in the 80s and 90s aired a nation’s laundry, never wanting for guests with dirty secrets and viewers with eager appetites. Artist Bjorn Melhus’s operatic installation, Primetime from 2001 dissects this drama brilliantly and with uneasy humour.


The book, which I have only just begun, delves head first into the political, educational (yes educational), economic, social, and ideological affects of the phenomenon that is Reality TV. TV as a privatized and homogenizing body now purports to speak to the public good. The TV shows and their agendas essentially become a replacement for the government’s interest in social programming, providing entertainment and a resource for self-improvement, albeit with the hefty price of commercial endorsements. In the introduction the authors write, “It is a sign of the times that, in the absence of public welfare programs, hundreds of thousands of people now apply directly to reality TV programs for housing, affordable health care, and other forms of assistance”. Sign of the times? Sounds like high time to petition the government and vote in a candidate who truly stands for public good before the poor are washed away in the next natural disaster -slash- act of god. I’m not sure that a designer wardrobe, liposuction, jaw implants, and dental veneers (a modest example of The Swan contestants’ prizes) are going to help the public good.

House makeovers, the perfect mate, and extreme elective surgery are not beyond the reach of the disenfranchised, but only the precious few are awarded a chance at the prizes. American Idol was for a time America’s #1 TV show in the ratings – the prize there a recording contract awarded for the performance of unoriginal music. Anyone can do it!

Reality TV is presided over by moderators, consultants, and experts – the authors argue that they are patronizing yes but empowering too. These roles champion an active, self-possessed, and entrepreneurial citizenry – “at a time when privatization, personal responsibility, and consumer choice are promoted as the best way to govern liberal capitalist democracies, reality TV shows us how to conduct and “empower” ourselves as enterprising citizens”. TV has become “the quintessential technology of advanced or “neo” liberal citizenship” (17). The authors weave In Foucault’s view of government and the self-governing model. TV takes governance into the home through a hard-hitting educational stance – but there is no place in this model for individuals who wish to reject femininity or masculinity as presented on screen, or who prefer a subcultural lifestyle (p 116).

Some shows speak to the political process – your vote counts. Polled by Pursuant Research, Inc, 35% of American Idol voters in 2006 believed their vote counted as much or more than their vote for the president (p 215), and an Idol moderator claimed that the 2006 winner received more votes than any president in history. Maybe the government should take notes – this is what the people want – voting at home, popular (generic) music, and big self-improvement prizes. The media pays attention – fans are the customers.


Another TV genre that lets contestants dream big, financially if not cosmetically, is the game show. In related news, Mark Kostabi’s latest vanity project, Title This. For those unfamiliar with Mark Kostabi, he is a New York artist whose Kostabi World factory workers churn out endless dime-a-dozen paintings. He’s infamous for this factory approach to art making (not unlike artstar giants Jeff Koons or Damian Hirst), lack of originality, selling works on eBay, and his media persona.


Said Kostabi, “My paintings are actually more interesting than the conceptual hijinks [which he is famous for], but you’d have to be a painter to understand that. It’s much easier to be entertained by anti-establishment intellectual slapstick than it is to understand what’s going on in a painting.” Unfashionable championing of painters as the pinnacle of fine artists aside, Kostabi’s Public Access variety TV show, Title This, is in my opinion, the most interesting thing he does.

To the tune of his own piano playing, he invites celebrity and artworld friends to title his paintings, rewarding them with $25 for successful titles. I have some ideas for the (untitled) image above.

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.

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