All my work begins with my most uprooting experiences. Be they dreams or waking encounters, these pivotal events tell me that what separates me from all else is only a thin membrane no more substantial than a breath someone momentarily expels in a room. In my artwork I’m interested in what erupts when I step through this membrane. What is the magic that is being offered? What happens when I become entangled with a deer, a rock or another human being, and we begin to live in each other?
Toby MacLennan is a multimedia artist and writer working in performance, installation, film and, most recently, photography. In a review for The New York Times Jennifer Dunning writes, “Toby MacLennan is a visionary whose feet are firmly planted in the ground… [Her work] is at heart a romantic ode to the hidden, instinctual voyages by which we navigate through life.”
The inspiration for a photograph is often an evocative dream. Based on the notes and sketches in her journal, MacLennan finds both objects and models that fit the mood of the initial dream. In recreating the scene, the artist often builds her own props and backdrops, and makes custom costumes and masks for participating models. In addition, she will incorporate some of her older photographs or will take new ones, depending on the feel she wants to convey. MacLennan uses a Nikon D800 for her image capture and the final image is the result of hours of play over the course of a month or more, using Photoshop as her toolkit.
MacLennan has exhibited nationally and internationally including performances and Installations at P.S.1 and P.S. 122, in New York, The National Gallery of Canada, The H.R. MacMillan Planetarium in British Columbia and the Andrus Planetarium at the Hudson River Museum, New York, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Power Plant, Toronto, Art in General, New York and Galerie Articule, Montreal.
Her films were shown at St. Marks Poetry Project, New York, E’cole Nationale d’Art de Cergy Pontoise and Maxililien Guiol Gallery in Paris and Euro Underground Film Festival. Awards were won at The New York Film Festival, Brussels International Film Festival, Ohio Film Festival, Louisville Film Festival, and the Annual Festival of Experimental Film, Chicago Art Institute. The Galerie Articule in Montreal hosted a retrospective of her films.
Five of her photographs were published in Trespass Magazine, London. Her photograph, Moonman, was installed in a public art exhibition at the Yekaterinburg International Airport, Russia. Honorable mention was awarded for her photos in Interview Online Magazine, Berlin and The Center for Fine Art Photography, Colorado.
Her book, 1 Walked out of 2 and Forgot It was published by The Something Else Press and reviewed by The New York Times. John Cage wrote the sample/foreword to another of her books, Singing the Stars, published by Coach House Press.