Derry, Northern Ireland : 1980

Performance/installation at the Orchard Art Gallery over the course of one working day.


MacLennan is dressed in all in white, wearing mirrored glasses, with fish heads pinned to his body, his arms and hands painted white, his face black. The room contains rows of square mirrors and A4 sheets of paper with statements on art – ‘resolution of conflict’. Tapes play the sounds of two metronomes at different speeds.

‘On the surface, the grid made out of mirrors on the floor of the gallery recalled Carl Andre’s work. The typed text echoed the concerns of Art and Language and similar groups. The introduction of the fish heads and of the metronome’s sounds rendered the surface reading inadequate. The sound acted as an audible grid, doubling the already visually established idea of re-occurance. The fish heads carry cultural connotations both of religion and man’s attitude to the world. Christianity as we know it, fails to resolve conflict between the two Christian communities on this island. Man eats fish, and pollutes the sea, thus killing it twice.’

Text from ‘Alastair MacLennan: Is No’, ed. Stephen Snoddy, 1988.