May 24th, 2008

Iceberg Envy


My dad sent me this postcard recently upon moving back to Newfoundland, the province of his childhood. I thought the image was a bluff. Apparently not. This summer we’re going to visit him there and I’m hoping the icebergs are still there, not to mention puffins, light houses, cod tongues, screech, blustery cliffs, whales, clams, fog, and other promises. Who needs the tropics – bring on the North, eh!

May 24th, 2008


My Word Press blog was hacked last week, which explains the spate of spam comments pushing my inbox ever-wider. I found spam-a-lot inserted into my own header.
Beckleyworks saved the day.

May 24th, 2008

All’s quiet

The Descent

I came across a post about the use of silence in the film The Descent as a defensive weapon in direct opposition to screaming, on Ben Woodard’s Blog, Naught Thought. The Descent is a British film about a group of friends, all female, who go spelunking in The Appalachians, and find themselves battling a cave full of blind cannibalistic creatures. They soon figure out that though the hungry monsters can’t see, their hearing is extra sensitive, so their utter silence is the only thing that can save them. (Spoiler!!) But it doesn’t do much good in the end, there’s neither a happy nor a cliff hanger ending here.

This interests me in relation to The Screaming, my recent video work, in which I scream in order to scare away or destroy various onscreen horrors.

May 23rd, 2008

Wack at P.S.1 and Body Beautiful

I made it to WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution – a massive traveling exhibition that is amazingly the “first comprehensive historical survey of feminist activism and art-making” from the late 1960s through the 1970s – on the last day of the show. It was good, if awkward and painful, to see work by the likes of Carolee Schneeman and Yoko Ono which inspired me in my early 20′s. My highlights are three works which seem, in 2008, less dated.

ana mendieta

Ana Mendieta’s People Looking at Blood Moffitt (1973), is a set of documentary slides featuring people’s curious glances at blood stains on a sidewalk. This public intervention is fascinating and more subtly provocative than Mendieta’s earth-body art. Strange, however, is the installation at P.S.1 in which slides are viewable on a light table, rather than projected.

Marta Minujin and Richard Squires’ Soft Gallery from 1973 but recreated for this exhibition is a stunning and functional piece, and was full of lounging gallery goers when I arrived.

beauty knows no pain

Martha Rosler’s series of collages, Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows no Pain from 1966-1972 are funny and disturbing, a notable accomplishment. Her Bringing the War Home series are equally good (she’s recently updated the series using contemporary wartime imagery). Pictured above, Cargo Cult. Unfortunately this looks less dated because, after all, the beauty industry still has a healthy stranglehold on our wallets and collective consciousness.


Speaking of which, on my favourite new radio program, Q, I listened to an interview with Michael Salzhauer, plastic surgeon and author of My Beautiful Mommy. If you’re wondering why post-surgery mommy looks like a Disney femme-bot, the book designer worked for Disney. In the book, written so young children, particularly girls, may “understand” why mommy needs to beautify herself under the knife (I doubt it explains that culturally loaded question), mommy only gets a new nose, breasts, and tummy. She doesn’t get the butterfly wings pictured on the website. They might befit the spotlight sprinkling of pain-free Tinkerbell dust.

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.

May 21st, 2008

Review in Art Papers!

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.

May 21st, 2008

Calling all Zombies, from Québec

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.

May 20th, 2008

Shopping for Jesus

Here’s one for Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. I’ve never been much of a shopper, but this is enough to make me quit cold turkey.

Today in the loo I noticed that in the bottom seam of the yellow Forever 21 shopping bag I used to tote home bathroom caulking supplies yesterday is printed “John 3:16″ – according to Wikipedia the most oft-quoted bible verse. God is everywhere, or at least his evangelists are, including on the bottom end of a sack that once held low thread count fashion and will eventually hold my forever decomposing household trash.

May 19th, 2008

Finding and Saving America

I was reading this article today about a recent presentation at The Kitchen by artists inspired by Youtube, which I unfortunately missed, and noticed a banner ad at the top of the page. The left side said this:

bank of america

The right side advertised the Bank of America, Bank of Opportunity.
We can easily bring to mind historical instances of what America has found and whom they have saved. Personally I find this statement really unsettling considering, for one, the treatment of the First Nations people on this continent. And the politicization of the Christian Right. And the persistent war in Iraq. And…

May 14th, 2008

Saving 30 Days of Night

30 days of night

This is the least haunting image I can find from the film I started watching last night: the male lead trapped in an attic while bloodthirsty savages (vampires like you haven’t seen them before, see below) claw and pry the windows. I started watching it but quickly realized this was not a film for Jillian to watch alone, at night. So I’ll save it for next week’s trip to Québec City, where no doubt I’ll watch it even more alone, at night.

The snowbound “Alaskan” landscape is stunning, though the darkened town was filmed on a sound stage in New Zealand. Note to self: more footage for Snow Stories. Another snow covered landscape signaling despair, doom, and entrapment. There is no explanation so far for why the townspeople can’t simply drive away.

These vampires are more closely related in demeanor and appearance to the furious and faster frame rate zombies of recent films like 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Land of the Dead etc, than to debonair and handsome Hollywood vampires played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas. That’s a relief.


They resemble the original Nosferatu, or even the blind post-human cave dwellers in The Descent – batlike, with razor teeth.

Gone is the slow courtship, the stealth, the dark beauty… these vampires are messy, blood covered, and undeniably inhuman deadly monsters.

pictured above: 30 Days of Night, and Nosferatu.