Pictures Become Objects, Objects Become Events

Annie MacDonell


Throughout the month of May, Toronto-based artist Annie MacDonell is engaged in a self-directed residency at the Toronto Reference Library. Her focus is the  Picture Collection, a vast archive of images maintained by the library since the 1920s. Numbering over a million images sourced from a wide range of magazines, calendars, books, and other print media, it is a richly idiosyncratic and varied collection. It is also an interesting counterpoint to the contemporary Google image search. Unlike an internet search engine, the Picture Collection is defined by an accumulation of individual choices made by the many librarians who have maintained it over the years.

MacDonell is interested in how the character of the collection has been influenced by the identities and experiences of the individuals building it. She explores the possibility that, through a multitude of individual acts of selection and categorization, these predominantly female librarians have produced a more complex expression of the female identity than one could normally expect from an archive derived from mass media. Pictures Become Objects, Objects Become Events reframes the Picture Collection as a potential feminist archive, however unintentional and subtle its sympathies might be.

MacDonell is working in the Picture Collection Mondays through Fridays, 10am to 3pm. Her interventions take a number of forms, including an evolving display of the collection’s images in a vitrine on the 5th floor, an accumulating installation of images transformed by the artist and assembled as a mural on the library’s 3rd floor, and a performance produced in collaboration with French artist Maïder Fortuné (May 31, 3pm). Using the library’s Espresso Book Machine, the images and texts generated throughout the month’s research will be gathered together in an artist’s book.

Presented in partnership with the Toronto Reference Library.

Please note, the mural on the 5th floor will remain on view until June 15.

Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein