Glasgow, Scotland : 1987

Performance/installation at 3rd Eye Centre, Glasgow – 50.5 hours, continuous.

16 – 18 October 1987

This work was made for the ‘New Work No Definition’ season staged in 1987 as a collaboration between Glasgow’s Third Eye centre and Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre. The work was in a way a revision of ‘IN THE OUT‘ – a National Review of Live Art commission staged earlier that October. The room in the Third Eye Centre was filled with various objects and detritus, that MacLennan moved through and around slowly, stopping at times to draw. Included were an empty glass case, dead fish, wash basins, bowler hats, a vacuum cleaner, an ironing board, parachutes, a chair, cords, black drapes, barbed wire, x-ray prints, flour, fish drawings, a cash register, an exit sign, a paddle and an audio tape playing the sounds of children crying and Irish pipes.

MacLennan discussed the work with Malcolm Dickson and Billy Clark in a 1988 edition of Variant magazine:

BC Certain aspects of the objects in the installation seemed loaded with, not so much symbolism, but the attitude towards symbolism. Some appropriate things had been brought along, but it is interesting to relate this to the glass case. It does look as if things have escaped from it or exploded on this barbed wire landscape. How do you choose these objects, this debris?

AM There are several reasons for using the case. This work, ‘Out the In’, is an extension of the one made at Riverside Studios, London, called ‘In the Out’. There were certain elements I intended to use here, but through a misunderstanding, two crucial items were not available. This threw me back. I chose an empty case to display ‘presence’ of absence in protective glass. It became focal.

BC Is this related to the notion of art objects?

AM Yes, but in reference to life. It’s like a fish tank. What might fish represent to an ecologist?

BC It’s obviously being used as a symbol, but there is the rotting element.

AM I’m interested in decay, where it constitutes the discrepancy between ideology and actuality. The fish is a Christian symbol. It’s also a symbol for the subconscious mind and subterranean levels of awareness not usually manifest in ‘waking’ reality. Then there’s pollution and ‘dead’ matter. Fish smell and rot, as do religious/political ideologies (locally and globally).

Text from ‘Variant’, Winter/Spring 1988, no. 4, p. 26-27.