Belfast, Northern Ireland : 1981
12 hour continuous performance/installation at Crescent Arts Centre.
5 December 1981
‘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.