BODY BREAK

Sheffield, England : 1985

72 hour non stop performance/installation at Mappin Art Gallery for The British Art Show.

21-24 March 1985


 

Dressed all in black, with stockings covering his head and face, MacLennan meticulously attended to a large square of flour covering the centre of the room. Around the space he had arranged various objects: scaffolding, a wheelbarrow, a basket containing his death mask; a Belfast sink on its side; a clothes wringer pressing dead fish and newsprint; a traffic cone and a broom. The walls of the space were split at eye level with a line of black tape. There were single shoes placed along the skirting on the wall, and drawings of shoes were pinned above them.

‘…far from being complacent about its audience, Body Break (which was performed in a small upstairs room in the Mappin) lured people up from the galleries with its hypnotic tape-loop soundtrack of helicopters and wailing bagpipes, and once it had them up there, it either disgusted them – in some cases quite literally, the stink of rotting fish got so bad – or, at least as often, it intrigued them with its at first apparently peculiar assortment of objects […] finally it mesmerised them with Alastair MacLennan’s painfully slow, repeated, apparently ritualistic actions. Again and again he brushed around the square of flour, tidying up its edges; or slowly, as though measuring, he’d run his finger in from the edge of the flour continuing the squaring of the cork floor tiles into his own larger, more important square.’

Text by Robert Ayers, Performance Magazine, 1985, No. 35