Today, we’re pleased to feature a delightful book of self-portraits and installations by the lovely artist and former F295 speaker Anne Arden McDonald. The 99 page, 13.125 x 12.125,” hardbound, limited edition (1,500 copies) book, published in 2004 contains 40 self-portraits/installations, introductory essays by Leslie Findlen and Wanda Strukus, as well as an afterword by McDonald.
The book was published by Autonomy and Alchemy Press and printed by EuroGrafica in Italy. The volume features gorgeous duotone reproductions.
McDonald’s photographic explorations of the self began at the tender age of 8 when she “felt radiant and beautiful… and wanted to see what she looked like when she felt that way.” The pictures in this collection were made between 1986-1995 (long after that 8 year old had her photograph made) in places as varied as Austria, California, Czech Republic, Massachusets, New Hampshire, New York, Wyoming, and several others.
It took 6 years for her self-portrait investigation to fully bloom. She began in earnest at the age of 14 while attending a “conservative religious school and was in conflict with almost everyone around her.” This lead to a 15 year self-portrait exploration project.
McDonald includes an impressive variety of locations and situations in this collection that all contribute to her compelling inquiry. She often seamlessly and neatly blends her self into the situation, becoming an integral part of each dramatic scene. The images have a uniquely cinematic quality, without the overabundance of production often associated with the genre.
In Findlen’s introduction she offers that McDonald’s staged self-portraits are an exploration of “the tangled dramas and mysterious incarnations of the imagined self.”
McDonald offers in closing that “she began collecting antique clothing to wear in her photographs and began wearing it in real life…I feel that in some ways I have come full circle with this body of work.” And, she quotes filmmaker Jan Svankmajer in closing “I think it worked out quite well, though not entirely as I’d expected.”
But then again, what does…