Bruce McLean's 'Half Hour Stand and Walk About Piece' (1969)
- Henry Moore Institute
- Wednesday, 11 July 2018
- Lecture by Dr Anna Dezeuze in the Institute's seminar room, starting at 6pm
In this lecture, Anna Dezeuze will take an in-depth look at Bruce Mclean's photographic work 'Half Hour Stand and Walk About Piece', made in 1969.
Bruce McLean (b. 1944) studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1961-63 and St Martin's School of Art from 1963-66. In reaction to what he regarded as the academicism of the teaching curriculum he turned to making sculpture out of rubbish, to performance art and to producing photographic works in which he often posed.
His work brilliantly sent up the self-regarding attitude of the art world and questioned established art forms with comedic wit. He was given an exhibition at the Tate Gallery at the age of 27. From the late 1970s he has made paintings and prints in which humour remains central.
For thirty minutes in February 1969, Bruce McLean decided to alternate walking and standing around the high street in his London district of Barnes. This performative action was documented by a series of fifteen photographs reproduced on a board, now in the sculpture collections of Leeds Museums and Galleries.
Comparing this work to the ‘documentation board’ held in the Henry Moore Institute Archive yields significant insights into the artist’s process of selecting, framing, and sequencing the original images.
While McLean’s mapping of this banal territory may conjure, at first sight, other artistic practices that explore everyday spaces and experiences through walking and the narrative potential of the photograph, Dezeuze argues that his work focuses, above all, on the act of standing still.
It is in this sense that this early piece prefigures McLean’s later investigations of the logic of the pose in his 1971 ‘Pose Works for Plinths’ and his participation in Nice Style, the World’s First Pose Band between 1973 and 1975. Analysing this key passage in McLean’s work sheds light on the relation between context, sculpture, image and performance in his work. Furthermore, the emphasis on standing still in ‘Half-hour Stand and Walkabout Piece’ resonates with a number of 1970s performance practices that foregrounded the possibilities and difficulties of holding still.
Dr Anna Dezeuze is Lecturer in Art History at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design Marseille-Méditerranée. She is the editor of The ‘Do-it-yourself’ Artwork: Participation from Fluxus to New Media (Manchester University Press, 2010) and co-editor, with Julia Kelly, of Found Sculpture and Photography from Surrealism to Contemporary Art (Ashgate, 2013). Her other publications include a study of Thomas Hirschhorn's Deleuze Monument (Afterall, 2014) and Almost Nothing: Observations on Precarious Practices in Contemporary Art (MUP, 2017).