Alastair Maclennan

Performance Art

Alastair Maclennan represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale, with inter-media work commemorating the names of all those who died as a result of the Political Troubles in Northern Ireland, from 1969 to that date (1997). During the 1970’s and 80’s he made some long, non-stop performances in Britain, America and Canada, of up to 144 hours duration. Subject matter dealt with political, social and cultural malfunction. Since 1975 he has been based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and was a founding member of Belfast’s Art and Research Exchange (1978).

Since 1975 he taught at Ulster Polytechnic, later, the University of Ulster, where for eleven years he ran the Master of Arts (MA) Fine Art program. Currently, he travels extensively in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, North America and Canada, presenting Actuations (performance/installations).

Since 1989 he’s been a member of the performance art entity, Black Market International, which performs globally. He is presently an Emeritus Professor of Fine Art from the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland, an Honorary Fellow of (ex) Dartington College of Arts, Devon, England and an Honorary Associate of the (ex) National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland.

“A primary function of art is to bridge our mental and physical worlds. Through crass materialism we’ve reduced art to cultural real estate. ‘Actual’ creativity can be neither bought nor sold, though it’s husks, shells and skins often are. It’s possible in art to use meta systems without over-reliance on physical residue and attendant marketplace hustling, jockeying and squabbling. Art is the demonstrated wish and will ‘towards’ resolving inner and outer conflict, be it spiritual, religious, political, personal, social, cultural…or any interfusion of these. As well as ecology of natural environment, there’s ecology of mind and spirit, each an integrated aspect of the other. Our challenge today is to ‘live’ this integration. Already we’re late. Time we ‘have’ is not so vital as time we ‘make’.

Issues remain:


The Outsider—Political/Social Institutions

Religious/Political Bigotry—Inclusive Tolerance

‘Dereliction’—Public/Private Responsibility

Oppositional or Consensus Means of Political/Social Improvement


New Life and Mutation