Born in Belfast in 1969, Susan MacWilliam represented Northern Ireland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Susan is a lecturer in Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Her video works are held in the British Library Sound Archive.
Working with video, photography and installation MacWilliam’s work explores obscure and overlooked histories and considers perceptual phenomena and the world of the paranormal and supersensory. Through anecdote, reconstruction and detailed editing MacWilliam’s works explore forms of portraiture and interpretation, and provide a historical visual record of cases within the history of parapsychology and psychical research. The works consider the world of the paranormal, the supersensory and the tradition of psychical research. With an interest in that which is on the periphery of the mainstream and which falls beyond conventional fields of science and psychology MacWilliam has developed an extensive body of work, exploring a range of phenomena including dermo optical perception, table tilting, psychic abilities and mediumship.
Working as both observer and participant MacWilliam has worked closely with prominent parapsychologists and psychical research institutions, including poltergeist investigator Dr William G. Roll and the Dermo Optical Perception Laboratory of Madame Yvonne Duplessis, Paris. Susan's sustained engagement with the New York family of the Irish born medium Eileen Garrett has resulted in the production of five video works. MacWilliam has worked with historical archives internationally including those of the Parapsychology Foundation, New York, the T.G. Hamilton Spirit Photograph Archive, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Parapsychology Laboratory Records, Duke University, Durham, NC and Rhine Research Center, Durham, NC.
MacWilliam’s recent work AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED (2013-14) is a body of sculpture and video work, which considers the historic and groundbreaking experimental ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) and telepathy work of parapsychologist Dr J.B. Rhine (1895-1980).
The survey show Susan MacWilliam: Modern Experiments runs at Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda 18 Feb - 8 Apr 2017 before touring to West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen and Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. Curated by Riann Coulter Modern Experiments began its tour at F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge in 2016.
Solo exhibitions include FE McWIlliam Gallery, Banbridge (2016); QUAD, Derby (2014); NN Contemporary Art, Northampton (2013); Open Space, Victoria, BC (2012); aceart inc, Winnipeg (2010); Gimpel Fils, London (2008); Jack The Pelican, New York (2008); Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin (2004); Cornerhouse, Manchester (2001) and Project Arts, Dublin (1997). Group exhibitions include Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2015); The Agency, London (2015); Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg (2014); NGBK, Berlin (2013); Kunsthalle Krems (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2011); Kino Kino, Sandnes (2011); Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2010); Villa Merkel, Esslingen (2010); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2007) and Chapter Arts, Cardiff (2003).
MacWilliam was artist in residence on the PS1 International Studio Programme, New York in 1999/2000 and has worked on residencies in Ireland, Trinidad, Slovenia, America and Canada.
Susan’s first video work The Last Person (1998) was short listed for the 1999 Irish Museum of Modern Art Glen Dimplex Award, Dublin. Her video installation Kuda Bux, 2003, was awarded the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, 2003 Perspective Prize by curator Enrique Juncosa.
REMOTE VIEWING (2009) a book about MacWilliam’s practice with essays and contributions from Ciaran Carson, Brian Dillon, Martha Langford, Slavka Sverakova and Marina Warner is published by Black Dog Publishing, Editor Karen Downey.