Crossing the Denburn Viaduct yesterday I chanced upon this strange scene
outside the Triple Kirks – at first I thought it was a protest about the Triple Kirks development but then I found that it was part of the This Is Performance Art exhibition and was a work by (and featuring) artist Alastair MacLennan. Now, I’ve never really seen any performance art before and I’m not really sure what to make of it but perhaps that’s the whole point? I certainly find it thought provoking on many levels … the artist was at his installation for six hours and then that’s it gone … so on one level we have the very ephemeral nature of the work to deal with. It’s gone now but every time I walk past there in the future, I’ll probably be thinking about it.
Then we have the content itself …. I suppose knowing nothing about the work is a fair starting point … and as a viewer you’ve got to think about what it means to you. To someone unaware (or unconcerned) about the current goings on in Aberdeen it will mean one thing, to someone concerned about what’s happening in the City and its environs it means something totally different. As to the true meaning, well that’s really going to be in the artist’s head – or maybe he means to provoke thought, reaction and comment from us the beholder? Who knows!
A table set with four chairs ? Who’s table is it? Stewarty Milne’s? Ian Wood’s ? Donald Trump’s? ACSEF’s? Who are the guests upon which hospitality is to be lavished? The Lord Provost? The City Council? Aberdeen Journals? What will be expected in return for this hospitality?
A pig’s heid … with some food in front of it – what does that mean? Does the pig signify vested interests with their snouts in the trough of corporate hospitality?
Parts of dead birds? Do they signify the possible extermination of the local Peregine Falcon population as a consequence of construction at Triple Kirks? Or, do the feathers signify the “beads and feathers” swapped with natives in exchange for their land?
Bowls filled with soil? Consumption of the very earth beneath our feet by avaricious speculative property developers? Participation in a feast where all manner of tasty delights are promised, but all that is served up is base dirt – a metaphor for the nearby City Square project perhaps?
A man with a pair of tights over his head? Someone in need of a disguise? A councillor? Or is he a robber? Sticking up the City and grabbing its most precious assets – from public parks to the green belt? or is he perhaps not human at all? A monster? What’s with the tiny child’s shoe? Very, very disturbing.
So many possible interpretations … so much to discuss … and that surely is the point of art. As sentient beings we don’t need everything served up on a bland platter – we need things that challenge and make us think, make us comment.
I passed the installation twice and on the second visit, the police were just leaving – apparently some people had complained about the work. What’s to complain about? There’s really nothing here you wouldn’t see in a flesher’s window – although maybe the closest most people come to a one of these nowadays is the meat section in a supermarket, but that’s a whole other can of worms 😉
I can say for sure that having seen this work I truly was moved to comment and if you saw it too, I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it.