Monday, June 8, 2015


Anne MacDonald_Candle_2015_fine art inkjet print_76.7 x 105 cm_edition of 10

Describe your work in 100 words or less:

Drawing on the vanitas still life genre, my work aims to extend historical approaches by exploring the symbolic potential of objects within a contemporary context and through a photographic installation format. The photographic still life not only builds on the long history of vanitas imagery in art, but also brings with it the additional association of the photograph as memento mori. Photography has a unique connection with still life and death, due to its ability to arrest time and literally still life. My work draws on these associations to create elegiac metaphors for the ephemerality and mutability of 

What themes and ideas do you pursue?

Since the 1980’s I have worked with photo media, producing large-scale installations exploring the relationship between the photographic still life, transience, death and loss. The untimely death of my mother coincided with the year I commenced art school. Several years later, while completing a research higher degree in fine art, my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. In retrospect, my obsession with the visual representation of death seems natural and inevitable.

During the 1990’s I spent a lot of time travelling in Europe, visiting museums and viewing Renaissance paintings. This experience led me to think beyond funerary ornaments and flowers to other symbolic representations of death.

In 2000 my son was born. Observing his childhood years has resulted in a dramatic shift in my artistic practice. I no longer use a black backdrop. My colour palette is lighter and brighter. The objects I choose to photograph are more frivolous and fun, encouraging a more complex and potentially more layered reading. Thematically, however, I continue to meditate upon the ephemeral nature of existence.

Which artistic movements or artists do you most identify with?

I identify with the morbid European Still Life Vanitas Painting of the 16th and 17th centuries and with contemporary artists who are using the visual look and symbolic language of nature morte to express anxieties about our current age. Jim Hodges scattered arrangements of silk flowers; Laura Letinsky’s photographs of dirty dishes, rotting fruit, and table scraps; Michael Wesely’s time lapse images of wilting flowers; Ori Gersht’s Blow Up series depicting elaborate floral arrangements, captured in the moment of exploding; and Rob & Nick Carter’s computer animation entitled Transforming Vanitas Painting; are contextually relevant to the work I am developing in this latest project.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years I would like to be working full-time on my practice, in a studio (anywhere) creating photo media installations that are aesthetic, poignant, poetic, resonant and meaningful.

Anne MacDonald's work is currently showing as part of #YOLO, a group exhibition that examines the complexities of life, death and passing time through the lens of the pithy acronym #YOLO, a common and often lighthearted catch-cry for the Internet generation.  The exhibition also includes work by Ben Ali Ong, Shoufay Derz, Stevie Fieldsend, Hyun-Hee Lee and Zan Wimberley and runs until 27 June, 2015.

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