SHOWREEL (5 Minutes 2012-16 film work)

The Past is Singing in Our Teeth, December 2017
premiering at Kunstquartier Bethanian, Berlin
touring to Civic Room, Glasgow March 2018 & Arusha Gallery in July 2018 for the Edinburgh Festival.

“The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object…” (Proust 1922: 45).

The Past is Singing in our Teeth suggests that artworks, objects and sound can serve as an umbilical cord back in time, thus functioning as an intermediary into the past. In this case, a fictional past reinvented in the absence of women’s histories. The final work manifests as a film based installation, incorporating projected films, sound, performance and sculpture. Using methodologies of collage it is an ambitious work that attempts to reconstruct a labyrinth of lost things. Like a conjuring or a haunting, it seeks to draw a line around the things that sit at the periphery of our vision. In particular, it imagines a lost archive of women’s knowledges, a remembrance of which is triggered by the recovery of sacred objects and landscapes.

On opening night percussionist Louise Devenish animated the exhibition, bringing a voice to the silent objects that punctuate the space. The performance metaphorically and actually embodies the idea that listening to quiet sounds, sounds that may otherwise be overlooked, is central to acknowledging the lost voices within our histories. In this context the sculptures become percussion objects, and the films become records of landscapes activated through ritual and memory. The percussionist is clothed in what McMillan calls 'a spell dress'. It is covered in pockets which conceal additional sculptures also used in the performance. To view the performance, is to experience the work in its complete form.

Filmed in four UK locations – the Welsh Borders, the Kent coast, One Tree Hill and a Hampshire lake, as well as film sets (memory rooms) constructed in the artist’s studio, the exhibition traces the journey of a young girl as she rediscovers a heritage of knowledge and power. The work stitches together recreations of memories, combined with their physical remainders in the present day – objects, ephemera, locations and sounds. The films are inter-dispersed with photographs, spoken word and poetry, attempting to articulate the way memory inflects and informs the present, not as a series of linear and knowable narratives, but as constantly changing, ambiguous, beautiful and haunting residue.

These filmic spaces become points of access into a world that is somewhat disjointed from language, a world that is felt and internalised, carried in the body, played out and recreated in present-day events. A central mechanism in this work is the creation of a series of sculptures that slip in and out of roles – props, sculptures and as musical instruments that form the basis for the film score composed by Cat Hope.

Key ideas include the repeating of history, the presence of linked signs, archetypes, place and the objects we carry alongside us throughout our life. The interplay between what is lost and what remains, the repetition of certain behaviours, the seeking out of certain systems and themes become the visual language of the work. So, whilst the impetus for the work begins with the artists own biographical engagement with time and memory, the concepts expand outwards, inviting viewers and ideas in. The work is quiet, refusing monumentality – instead framing a precarious and fragile movement through the world.

Like a psychoanalytic investigation, the construction of the work becomes a tenuous relationship between the real and the unreal, what is known and what is not.

Key objects within the exhibition include a ‘spell making’ dress befit with numerous pockets, that house sculptures/percussion objects/relics; a silver necklace decorated with children’s teeth; percussion stands for various sculptures/percussion objects; shorthand poems; silk fabrics with film stills printed on them which act as veils and barriers throughout the installation.

Adventious Encounters, March 2018 at the former Whiteleye's Department Store, West London
curated by Huma Kubakci & Anna Skladmann

McMillan will produce a new set of silk works based around the fictional histories of hag stones collected from the Kent coast.

Rohkunstbau XXIV, June 2018 at the Schloss Lieberose, Brandenburg
curated by Mark Gisbourne

'Lost Places' is a new film based installation that will imagine an underground baroque world set within the basement of the Schloss Lieberose. Run by servant class women, the narrative will expose the plotting of a different future for Europe. The work intends to respond to contemporary concerns of nationalism and cultural loss. It will involve the development of new sculptures, a film and a score.