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Jillian McDonald, Waking the Dead

Moti Hasson Gallery
535 West 25th Street, 212-268-4444
October 11 - November 10, 2007
Reception: Thursday, October 11, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Moti Hasson Gallery is pleased to present Waking the Dead, featuring recent work by Canadian-born, New York-based artist Jillian McDonald, with a special Halloween performance on Wednesday, October 31.

Included are a number of videos and a series of lenticular photographs that take their cue from well-and-lesser-known horror films. In her video The Screaming (2007), McDonald inserts herself into a sequence of clips from this genre. Using the “scream” to fend off a host of monsters, zombies, and aliens, rather than to signal her imminent demise, McDonald’s actions are surprising, if necessary to regain control over the various scenarios which threaten her.

In fact, McDonald consistently circumvents viewer expectation, whether she is presented with a live audience through her performances, or in her time-based and photographic work. For example, in the video Horror Makeup (2006), passengers bear witness to McDonald’s transformation into a zombie over the course of an otherwise uneventful subway ride, while in Zombie Portraits (2007), a series of lenticular photographs, the artist and others metamorphose into a pack of zombies through the aid of visitor interaction.

As critic Carol Kino commented in The New York Times, “What intrigues the viewer [is] how Ms. McDonald manages to transform herself so completely into a variety of personas”. Building on earlier work where McDonald took on the role of “love interest” to play out her celebrity obsession with actor Billy Bob Thornton (, Waking the Dead reinforces how cinema consistently creates situations for self-identification to both positive and negative results. Here, McDonald problematizes the role of “victim” to transcend media conventions. “The presence and actions of the woman she inserts on screen [is] not merely the object of the male protagonist’s desires” critic Sylvie Fortin notes. Rather, McDonald’s work, “offers a gendered critique [to] accelerate the spectacle to its collapse, opening into a range of practices on the other side of cooptation”.

At times, this translates into sympathy for the various creatures she encounters. In humanizing these characters, what appears merely as caricature from the outset quickly dissipates. “My work in video, web art and public intervention is often per-formative and relational,” the artist states. “My presence in the work is not autobiographical. I think it’s clear that my image serves as a deliberate subject who enacts shared fantasies or fears.”

Jillian McDonald is a Canadian artist currently living in New York. Her work has been showcased worldwide, including exhibitions and projects throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. McDonald has received numerous grants and awards, lectures regularly in North America and Europe, and has attended numerous international residencies. McDonald currently teaches Art at Pace University in New York, where she also curates and co-directs the Pace Digital Gallery. For more information, visit Waking the Dead was funded in part by a grant from Pace University, and created through residencies in New York at The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, The School of Visual Arts, and The Western Front in Vancouver, Canada. The artist wishes to thank Mark Roberts, Rossana Martinez, Dave Eppley, and Laura Nova for their assistance.
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