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New Territories 2011

One thing the annual New Territories festival has never done is stand
still. This year, the longstanding National Review of Live Art may have
vanished, but the newly branded This Is Performance Art strand has
risen from its ashes with an ambitious programme of performances,
workshops, residencies and a Winter School, all designed to break the
frame of what constitutes art with a set of ever-changing radical
strategies.

Central to all this activity is Black Market International, the
long-standing troupe of individual artists who combine resources to
present a series of durational performances that can last anything
between two and ten hours. A lynch-pin of BMI, and indeed New
Territories, is Perthshire-born Alastair MacLennan, who for the best
part of half a century has pushed both himself and his work to the
limits of endurance. This year, the BMI epic will take place at the
SWG3 artspace, where anything and nothing may or may not happen.

“It has to do with a German word, Begegnung,” MacLennan explains,
“which means the art of meeting. What this means has something to do
with the phrase, ‘being in the moment.’ That’s about going into the
performance without any prefixed object or plan in mind, but being
prepared to be adaptable moment by moment and to be ready to embrace
anything and everything as it happens. So in actual fact we don’t know
what will happen.”

This willingness to fly without a safety net has become a hallmark of a
genre that has remained on the margins, but which in the current
climate has captured a new generation of visual artists exploring
performative forms who could learn much from MacLennan, who originally
trained as a painter at Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College.

“All the artists in Black Market International have their own
individual practices,” MacLennan points out, “and we only meet maybe
six or seven times a year, so we have to think on our feet and be
adaptable enough to negotiate the unexpected. You could rehearse it,
but you might find that something happens which doesn’t allow you to do
what you’ve rehearsed, so you have to remain open to possibilities. I
enjoy it, being in the moment.”

New Territories, February 14th-march 2011, various venues

The List, February 2011

ends

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