My work incorporates video and performance, examining popular film genres such as romance or horror in relation to their effect on audiences. Whereas earlier works dealt with "celebrity" and the misplaced intimacy fans imagine with their celebrity idols, recent works focus on "fear as entertainment" exemplified in the American horror film. Unlike contemporary horror film itself, my work avoids extreme violence in favour of simplified narratives, familiar characters, and archetypes. Research plays an important role in my work, and my process includes reading film theory, watching popular films, and exploring fan culture.
Earlier work featured performances either live in urban locations, or filmed in my studio then composited into video sequences with recognizable films. In the live performance Horror Make-up (2006), I applied makeup during a subway commute, transforming into a ghoul. The subway riders were unaware they were witnessing a performance. In my video The Screaming (2007), I trespassed digitally into brief scenes from familiar horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, playing the role of a screaming protagonist whose powerful yells scared or destroyed monsters. I hijacked the archetypal screaming female victim, converting her from a helpless to a powerful figure.
Recent work features actors in landscapes. Undead in the Night was a performance in a forest near Malmö, Sweden featuring one hundred non-professional local actors cast as vampires, zombies, and victims in eighteen beautiful and chilling scenarios set along a three kilometer path. Alone Together in the Dark is a video installation which centers around a Western-style showdown in an Arizona desert between vampires and zombies. RedRum, a video shot in Victorian homes in Buffalo, New York, features six teenagers performing as ghostly apparitions.
Artist Bio / CV
Jillian McDonald is a Canadian artist working in video and performance. She has lived in New York since 1996.
Recent solo shows and projects have been featured at Moti Hasson Gallery in New York, Lilith Performance Studio in Sweden, Rosenthal Gallery in San Francisco, vertexList Gallery and ArtMoving Projects in Brooklyn, The Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, Hallwalls in Buffalo, La Sala Narañja in Spain, and YYZ Gallery in Toronto. Group exhibitions and festivals include The Edith Russ Haus for Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany, The Whitney Museum's Artport, Montehermoso in Spain, Nuit Blanche Toronto, The Edith Russ Haus for Media Art in Germany, Manifestation d'Art Internationale de Québec, The Sundance Online Film Festival in Utah, The Cleveland International Performance Art Festival, The Whitney Museum's Artport, La Biennale de Montréal, and WHARF in Caen, France.
Mcdonald has received grants from The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Canada Council for the Arts, Turbulence, New York State Council on the Arts, The Experimental Television Center, The Verizon Foundation, and Pace University. She has attended residencies including The Headlands Center for the Arts in California, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, The Western Front in Vancouver, and The Banff Centre for the Arts.
Mcdonald's work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Flash Art, Art Papers, and Border Crossings, among others. She is featured in books including Stalking by Bran Nicol and Better Off Dead by Sarah Lauro.