Art in America, April 1996
Report form Ireland: Art from the Edge (Part II)
by Judith Higgins
At one end of the Anchorage's great vaulted hall MacLennan began by donning a long black coat and wrapping his head and face with white scrim. Over that went black goggles and, on his head, a stack of black bowler hats. The top hat held two burning candles in its brim. For this performance MacLennan also draped several pungent dead fish down his back, and in each hand took up a bucket containing green plants and a baby shoe. Bursts of thunder were heard from a cassette recorder carried in a white sling across his chest. In this, as in other MacLennan performances, some of the symbolic props are open to a broad interpretation, while others (bowler hats, Loyalist and Unionist newspapers, wage packets) refer directly to the situation in Northern Ireland.
MacLennan likes to assault his audiences' ears with audiotapes playing backwards or cacophonously combining the noise of helicopters, traffic and gunfire with the sounds of nature and Irish laments. He assaults the sense of sight and smell as well by incorporating fish, sheep heads, chicken heads and feet, pig heads and trotters. Symbolizing death in life, these animal parts seem to be the physical equivalents of the psychic and societal divisions to which MacLennan wants to draw our attention.