Grantpirrie - Todd McMillan

Ague 2009

In this work we witness the artist Todd McMillan's attempt to swim the English Channel between Dover and Calais. The artist presents a 3-channel video projection. In the first shot we see the artist standing on an isolated English beach wearing black swimming trunks and a yellow swimming cap. He reaches for a tub of Vaseline and applies the contents to his body. A railway line is visible and a train passes in the background and goes through a tunnel cut into the chalk cliffs of Dover. In the second shot he wades into the sea until he becomes totally immersed. As he swims he struggles against the waves and we become disorientated. Todd McMillan's work explores physical endurance and self determination by confronting nature at it's most powerful. He challenges himself by undertaking exercises in concentration and tests his will power to the point of exhaustion. These attempts suggest a transcendental experience. A third wide-shot provides a context of ships, ferries and boats crossing the horizon. A dull-grey, misty light appears to increase the poetic nature of the work, echoing an iconic and timeless challenge that has been attempted for decades.

Todd McMillan was the recipient of the Helen Lempriere Travel Scholarship in 2006.