Windsor-born, Toronto-based artist Annie MacDonell received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ryerson University in 2000 and pursued further studies at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains in France, where she worked with film, photography, sculpture and sound. She has shown with a number of public and private galleries in Toronto and elsewhere including Katherine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects and in the group exhibition To What Earth Does this Sweet Cold Belong, at Toronto's Power Plant. MacDonell is also an instructor at Ryerson University.
MacDonell's work is not delimited by a specific medium. She demonstrates, her practice often intersects photography, installation and sculpture. The most recent work in the show, the series To Everything There is a Season, departs from found landscape photographs of locations including Ellesmere Island, Drumheller and Black Diamond. MacDonell uses both traditional and digital collage processes to reconfigure the original images, generating a mediated and psychological vision of these epic locations. The work Iceberg Sculpture attempts to represent the heroic scale and proportions of an iceberg using modified sculptural plinth structures. These mundane display forms have been augmented with ice-like sheets of mirror on the top and rolling casters on the bottom, suggesting the potential for reflection and drift. In Landscape Piece (Land of the Midnight Sun), 24 mirrored bulbs chart the rising and setting of the sun in various northern location. The simple on/off function of the bulbs is an attempt to connect the gallery space to the infinitely distant north.
The largest work in this exhibition, Death by Landscape, invites the viewer to reconsider humanity's relationship to nature. The rough exterior of this structure suggests an exhibition crate ready to be expedited to the next venue. But a plinth-and-step placed at its base invites viewers to explore the interior contents, where we are introduced to a miniature forest environment lit up like an aurora borealis event. The mirror-lined interior of the box offers a seductive visual trick which extends the forest out in all four directions, but ultimately the spectacle of nature has been substituted with cheap technology and simple special effects. Here, as elsewhere throughout the exhibition, we are reminded that our relationship to the land in a post-modern world is fictive and structured. By presenting a highly mediated take on landscape art, the works in this show serve to blur our binary understanding of nature and culture as distinct social spaces.
This exhibition has been supported with the generous assistance of the City of Windsor, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. The AGW also thanks Mandy Salter for her contribution to bringing this exhibition into the Gallery's exhibition program, and thanks are extended to the artist for her creative vision and support of the presentation here in Windsor.