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Alastair MacLennan, b.1943

Unseeing Trace1999

Unseeing Trace was a week-long ‘actuation’ (MacLennan’s term for performance/installation) for ‘Trace’, Liverpool Biennale of Contemporary International Art, Exchange Flags Building, Liverpool, England, 1999. Trestle tables running the entire length of his space were set for absent guests. Their uneaten feast included pigs’ heads, fish and other items symbolic in the Catholic tradition. MacLennan’s performance took place, on alternate days, both inside and outside. Alastair MacLennan’s artist statement for the work: A primary function of art is to bridge our spiritual and physical worlds. Through crass materialism we have reduced art to cultural real estate. Actual creativity can neither be bought nor sold, although its husks, shells and skins often are. It is possible in art to use meta-systems without over-reliance on a physical residue with its attendant marketplace hustling, jockeying and squabbling. Text from the Liverpool Biennial website: Art is the demonstrated wish and will to resolve conflict through action, be it spiritual, religious, political, personal, social or cultural. To heal is to make whole. As well as ecology of natural environment, there is ecology of mind and spirit. Each is a layer of the other, interfused: three in one. The challenge for us today is to live this integration.’ Text from ‘Alastair MacLennan: Knot Naught’, Ormeau Baths Gallery , 2003: ‘Unseeing Trace’ was originally made for ‘Trace’ at the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art in 1999 and was reworked for the MacLennan’s retrospective exhibition ‘Knot Naught’. ‘The exhibition presented documentation of work from the early 1970s to the [then] present alongside a series of reworked actuatons (performance/installations) originally made between 1997 and 2002.’

Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 2021
Item NumberIMMA.4342
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Alastair MacLennan, Unseeing Trace, 1999, 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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