Brooklyn based artist Jillian McDonald draws inspiration from the peculiar cultural phenomenon of celebrity worship. Her video installation, “To Vincent, With Love,” showing until March 26 at YYZ Artists Outlet straddles the two extremes of celebrity worship; the innocuous deluge of fan-sites, letters, and mind-numbing celebrity “journalism” and the often disturbing phenomenon of stalking, romantic delusion and threats of violence.
In the work McDonald has placed herself in various scenes of Gallo’s film Buffalo 66. In one scene she is sitting in the tub with a morose looking Vincent. In another she is sitting on the bed, playing with her hair. Vincent still looks sullen. By inserting herself into a star’s film she’s done something that celebrity worshippers dream of and made herself a part of that celebrity’s image and public identity. Yet Gallo, the object of her affections, can’t possibly know that she’s there and so McDonald’s presence is that of a ghost. She still exists in that double-bind that the cult of celebrity creates for its fans; our desire for unlimited access to those we’ve been told to worship and a constant denial of this by those very same people.