10 January - 28 January 2006
I tell you, I don’t get no respect, I called my doctor the other night and told him that I’d just swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. He told me to fix myself a drink and have a lie down.
A man and a woman are crossing the desert. They find a lamp in the sand. The man rubs the lamp and nothing happens. Afterwards, he feels a bit foolish.
Brodie H. Brockie and R. J. White
Woody Allen begins Annie Hall with two jokes that explain his perspective of life; an outsider living a life that is unsatisfying as it is short. In some ways, these jokes mirror the quiet melancholy prevalent in the photographs and videos of Todd McMillan. As sad as they are funny, and as earnest as they are self-effacing, the pause between the nervous laugh and the self-satisfied grin is the space in which McMillan’s work resides.
Giving renewed and refreshing voice to the ‘hopeless romantic’ McMillan takes us on a journey which is both emotive and humorous. His photographs often refer to a frozen moment of misguided hope, and instil the traditional self-portrait with a reverence for the past and a reserved message for the future. Art historical references to the travails of the romantic painters including Caspar David Friedrich surface in works such as A forest (again and again) [pictured], which recreates a studio depiction of the artist forever contemplating the bleakness of the unknown. In this work and others, McMillan explores the inevitability of one’s death in the face of the unforgiving and foreboding darkness of night and nature.
In McMillan’s video works, he uses particular devices such as endurance, repetition and simple but effective narratives continuing his enquiry into the fragility of the human spirit. McMillan makes light of the earnestness and melodrama of his romantic forefathers, and yet his self-portraits successfully share all that is sincere and hopeless about human nature.