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What We Loved and Forgot


March 20 – May 18, 2010

A meditation on memory and loss, What We Loved and Forgot is a single channel video, a large-scale photograph and a site-specific video installation exhibition by the American artists Megan and Murray McMillan in their second solo exhibition at Qbox gallery.

In early 2009, Megan and Murray McMillan answered an advertisement for a large assortment of yellow plastic used for cable management infrastructure for industrial construction. The advertiser was offering the material for free to whoever could collect it. They met with the advertiser, who had been recently widowed and found out that the plastic was from her late husband’s business. Her only request was that they use the material to make something beautiful. That experience created the basis of the structure the artists ultimately made from the material: a series of day lilies, which bloom at sunrise and wither at sunset. These lilies reminded the artists of the passage in One Hundred Years of Solitude, where yellow flowers rain down and blanket the town after José Arcadio Buendía’s death.

In their studio in Providence, Rhode Island, the McMillans built three large lilies from this yellow plastic, creating a theatrical set. Eight performers activated this space in a short performance that became the basis for the photograph and video. The video What We Loved and Forgot begins with a man seated on a easy chair in a room surrounded by discarded newspapers. A single tracking shot follows the man as he rises from the chair, ascends into a white space and then makes his way through a field of giant yellow lilies until he ultimately steps into a new room and settles into the chair there. Below the room, a woman is in a kitchen preparing food, unaware of the dream world around her. The soundtrack was written and recorded by the artists.

In the installation What We Loved and Forgot, the McMillans have made three lily structures out of wood and plastic in the gallery space. Using pieces of the original flowers from their studio set in Rhode Island as a starting point — like shards of an ancient vase used to form a modern-day recreation in a museum — the artists have built the remainder of the flowers out of wood and plastic sheeting as a reconstructed version of the original flowers. These new hybrid lily structures create an alcove that the audience can enter to see the video and photograph. 

The installation What We Loved And Forgot will travel to Kunsthaus Brandts in Odense, Denmark after the show in Athens.

Megan and Murray McMillan are video, photography and installation artists who have been collaborating since 2002. They have exhibited nationally and internationally including the National Museum of Art in La Paz, Bolivia, and the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Greece, where they participated in the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale. They have been artists in residence in Barcelona, Athens, Turku and Kokar, Finland. In 2007, they were in film festivals in Austria, Croatia, Romania, Switzerland, London and Los Angeles and participated in the 10th International Istanbul Biennial (2007) in Turkey. Their solo show at White Flag Projects in St Louis was reviewed in the Nov 2007 issue of Art in America. 

Megan McMillan (born 1975, USA) completed post-graduate work in Art History and Critical Theory at California State University Long Beach. Murray McMillan (born 1973, USA) has an MFA in Transmedia from The University of Texas at Austin and a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. Murray is currently an assistant professor at Roger Williams University. The McMillans have been married since 1997 and live and work in Providence, Rhode Island.

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