Exhibition/Residency Support Material


Update: My film The Fire Ceremony II: Metamorphosis has been selected for the 7th Annual NYC Independent Film Festival running in New York from April 27 to May 1, 2016. This film also received the award for Best Technical Achievement at the Burnaby Film Forum in Sept 2015. See the trailer below.

In addition, my video Fragile was selected for the Access Code Short Film Festival in Srinagar, India in October 2015.

I have an eclectic artistic practice that consists of several branches: digital images, mixed media installations and projections, some with sound/video/performance and painted components, and videos derived from these pieces. My work confronts concerns related to cultural and natural history, gender, landscape and the body, architectural space, the environment, and memory. Below please find samples of current work in digital media and installation/performance/projections.

I. Digital Images

Requiem: This work comprises digital images of a sculptural tableau of natural and pseudo-natural elements and photographic projections of animal specimens and threatened landscape.

I am saddened, angry and frustrated by the global lack of action on environmental degradation and species loss. Every day, it seems, we are confronted by a new species at risk and another thoughtless proposal to drill, rip, disturb, and destroy our ecosphere and its inhabitants, collateral damage in late capitalism’s frenzied consumption of everything. I despair that we no longer seem to have a sense of the interconnectedness of all life, an awareness of humanity’s place within the cosmos, and a respect for the other living beings that share the world with us. Sorrow at vanishing species, anxiety about global climate change, and hope for some new and better human relationship with nature and our fellow beings motivates me.

1-Lisa_MacLean_Granville Island Irradiated

High Water Kits Beach

Red Sky Kits Beach

Purple Sky Kits Beach

Lisa_MacLean_luster_8 v1small

The Fire Ceremony: In many cultural traditions fire signifies purification through destruction. These works depict an idiosyncratic fire ceremony performed by an apprentice yogini for a class of stuffed animals, dolls of all kinds, anatomical models, painted hair-styling teaching heads, mannequins, driftwood, and household objects. The scenes, allegories of our life on a heating planet, represent an unfolding metamorphosis of elements that are transmuted through fire. As the ceremony proceeds a sequence of projections bathes the proceedings in a kaleidoscope of changing images and colours, all ultimately dissolved in fiery conflagrations.

Double Self-Portrait in a Burning Room

Double Self-Portrait in a Burning Room 5

Double Self-Portrait in a Burning Room 4

Double Self-Portrait in a Burning Room 3

Portal: Inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and its alternative planet homelands, and reports of various geo-engineering possibilities currently being floated to save us from ourselves, these works imagine portals to another world opening up in our everyday landscape through which we might slip into another realm.

6 -Lisa_MacLean_Beach Avenue Portal

7-Lisa_MacLean_Beach Avenue Portal 3

Urban PastoralThese works are part of a series focusing on Vancouver’s seaside landscapes. A constellation of forces, including economic pressures, climate change, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and shoreline erosion, is affecting coastal areas worldwide. In Vancouver, the consequences of these changes for our society are beginning to register in the collective consciousness with recent reports that our city is one of the top ten around the world threatened by high waters. In this series of photographs I use unnatural coloration or technological processes (such as infrared photography) to suggest our mutating relationship with nature and its consequences.

Kitsilano Beach Stripes v3

Urban Pastoral Sunset Beach II

Sunset Beach Irradiated

Granville Island Irradiated

Around the Seawall

Urban Pastoral Kits Beach

Urban Pastoral VIII

Urban Pastoral Kits Beach B&W II

Jericho v1 B&W Urban Pastoral Beaver Lake

II. Installations, Performances, Projections, Videos

For the past several years, along with working in digital media and painting, I have been constructing mixed media environments and public installations, mostly with found objects and painted elements, and using these as a kind of theatre space for interactions and performances. Some of these works have been done in rural villages in different parts of the world where the local people have had no exposure to contemporary art or performance. Many of these projects have had collaborative components, often with the public at large and/or whoever happens to come by as the construction of the piece or performance proceeds. Since for several of these I have used primarily found objects, the piece created depends upon the site itself and what I find; the nature of these installations and performances emerges from a consideration of the area’s particular history and geography.

Requiem: Birds and Beasts: Mixed media installations, projections and video 2015.

This work comprises digital images of a sculptural tableau of natural and pseudo-natural elements (a dead magnolia branch picked up during a bike ride, candles, LED lights, plastic flowers from a Mexican market), and photographic projections of animal specimens. I had the pleasure of access to the teaching collection of animal specimens at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC where I was able to examine their shelves and drawers of bird, mammal, and insect species. It was fascinating and also somewhat sad to gently handle and photograph their bodies; I was amazed to note how similar some of the small mammals and birds were to humans as they lay in their silent sleep.

The Fire Ceremony II: Metamorphosis. Mixed media installations, projections, performance and video 2014-15. Soundtrack When I Die feat. michael dent (Youth “Don’t Feed the Trolls Rainbow mix”) by Jeremy Gluck and Michael Dent, remixed L. MacLean. Licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

The Fire Ceremony II: Metamorphosis represents an unfolding metamorphosis of elements that are transmuted through fire and water, from ancient ruins to an unknown future. As the ceremony proceeds a sequence of projections bathes the proceedings in a kaleidoscope of changing images and colours, all ultimately dissolved in fiery conflagrations. Beginning with a step through a flaming basement door into a ruined cathedral in central Anatolia, the visual narrative carries us through abandoned ruins and landscapes, to a Spring Equinox ritual burning for Nevruz, the Turkish and Persian New Year, to an idiosyncratic fire ceremony performed by an apprentice yogini, to an imagined post-apocalyptic west coast of British Columbia.

Amed Beach Mandala

While in Amed, Bali I created mandalas on the beach from natural objects found locally, including stones, shells, leaves, flowers, and coral, placed next to a yarn-wrapped tree. Within this setting, illuminated at night with small LED lights, myself, my partner, and several local community members joined in three public performance pieces invoking the spirits of the dead. Such performances were somewhat transgressive within a Balinese society that believes in witchcraft and the dark powers. These pieces were sites of intense interest to the Jemeluk community of fishers and subsistence farmers, none of whom had ever been witness to or participant in anything like it. Video created 2013. 7 minutes. Soundtrack Palestrina, Kyrie from Pope Marcellus Mass, remixed by L. MacLean.

III. Other Projects

Still In the Dollhouse

These photographs are part of a series entitled Still in the Dollhouse, comprising photographs and a video. Although I certainly did have a few dolls when I was a child, I have many more now as an adult. They are just part of a cast of characters and objects with which I’ve been playing for the past few years. Each element of the installations I construct has a symbolic function; they represent aspects of women’s lives, stories and myths about women, and ideas about what girls and women are presumed to be like, think like, and act like. Among the cast are stuffed animals, dolls of all kinds, anatomical models, hairstyling teaching heads, mannequins, mermaids, and allusions to Medusa, Athena, Eve and the serpent, Salome, and witchcraft. With these magical objects, I create small stage sets onto which I sometimes project images.






“All things human hang by a slender thread; and that which seemed to stand strong suddenly falls and sinks in ruins.” (Ovid)

In this photographic work I am exploring ruins, focusing not simply on ancient piles of stone, but also the ruins of systems, cities, nature; the fragmentary; the decayed; the dead; the never-born; and dream worlds, using 20th century German writer and critic Walter Benjamin’s understanding of history as a constellation of events, rather than a linear progress through unidirectional, homeostatic time, as a guide or thread. Instead of conceiving of progress as a straight line, Benjamin devised the image of the constellation to characterise history. This motif is a symbol of the understanding which emerges when a number of apparently unrelated historical events, or objects, are placed in conjunction. The constellation links past events among themselves, or else links past to present; its formation aims to stimulate a flash of recognition or glimpse of understanding.

Washroom, Prisoners' Barracks

Coming and Going

SS Troop Theatre

Beyond the Flesh Dress 1

Nevsehir Prison Church

Cir's House

Church Cemil

Beauty in Things v1