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Actuation (performance/installation) of hanging (and giving away) one’s coloured clothing … and shaving one’s head, with the intention of, from now on, wearing only black, until death. One wears black as a ‘sign’ of loss, throughout the Troubles (from this date in 1981, ongoingly, until future death). Also, if one mixes together equal amounts of the three primary colours, one produces a ‘greyish black’. Wearing black, ‘insightfully’, one may go as ‘art in life, life in art’. Alastair MacLennan Underneath each item a plastic bag was attached “for people to take the clothes away in”. Transforming “hanging” into “giving away” seems a plausible enough proposition if the only arbitrariness of “hanging” stopped staring one in the face. the “giving away” could have followed the stage or state of arrival – the clothes arrived in piles. Why the whole elaborate work of suspending each item from the high roof construction? Micky Donnelly, reviewing, perceived “a rectangular framework containing eight rectangular units” (Circa, Jan. Feb. 1982,22). MacLennan used the strategy of a grid before. In older works, the grid was made out of industrial or art material. In this case his jackets, shirts etc were given the job of providing the structure of a three dimensional grid. Because he wore all the clothes at some time prior to the performance, various short or long time intervals could have provided a rhythm of distancing from them. By suspending them in such a structure all at once, MacLennan formed a framework for his art, but, also to some extent, a memorable farewell to those possessions. Giving them away, then works not as simple charity, but as a manifestation of Zen’s attitude of non attachment to things. The clothes received a new owner, a new usefulness. They provided a tangible link between art and life, the link made by ‘hanging’ as art and the giving away as life in an ironic comment on the practice of art exhibition.’ Text from ‘Alastair MacLennan: Is No’, ed. Stephen Snoddy, 1988.

Dimensions Duration: 12 sec
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 2021
Item NumberIMMA.4340
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Alastair MacLennan, Hanging, 1977, Duration: 12 sec, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2021

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Alastair MacLennan b.1943

Scottish artist Alastair MacLennan attended Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee. Best known for his distinctive form of performance art which he terms ‘actuations, his practice also embraces drawing, installation and the use of found objects, materials and artefacts. He has performed and exhibited internationally since the early 1970s. He represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 1997 and taught at the School of Art, Ulster University, from then until 2008.

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