Performance Archive Display

24 Jan 2017 – 9 Apr 2017

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00


England, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Most city centre bus services stop within walking distance of Arnolfini. The nearest stops are at The Centre and Queen Square.
  • Arnolfini is a 15 minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads railway station. A taxi rank can be found outside the station.

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This spring we will be showing archival displays of three key performance pieces which took place at Arnolfini in the 1970s and 80s.


On display:

Alastair MacLennan – Is No 

MacLennan is widely celebrated as a leader and teacher in British/Irish performance art. MacLennan’s live work is prevailingly durational, featuring objects, actions and stasis – he refers to his work as ‘actuations’. Through the 1970s and 1980s he came to prominence through his presentation of long durational performances in Britain and America, of up to 144 hours. 

His work looks into political, social, religious, ethical and aesthetical questions (born in Scotland, he has been based in Northern Ireland since 1975 – he has recurrently addressed The Troubles in his work).

In the autumn of 1988, he had a solo presentation at Arnolfini entitled Is No. This included a durational performance in gallery 1 and the ground floor foyer, spreading out into the city as a walk/procession by the artist. It featured a large quantity of blackened burnt ladders.

On the Ground Floor we will be showing original documentary images of the performances.

Paul Neagu – Gradually Going Tornado 

Born in Romania, Neagu came to the UK in 1969, during a brief thawing in restrictions on travel for soviet-bloc citizens. In the same year, he wrote his ‘Palpable Art Manifesto’ in which he declared: ‘the eye is fatigued, perverted, shallow, its culture is degenerate, degraded and obsolete, seduced by photography, film, television… You can take things in better, more completely, with your ten fingers, pores and mucous membranes than with only two eyes.’ This led to his sculpting what he called ‘tactile objects’ which audiences were encouraged to handle, and to performance. He became well-known as a teacher, having a strong influence on the artists Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley.

His best-known performance from the 1970s was Going Tornado, an athletic show which Neagu regarded as pivotal in his career. Focussed on the idea of spiralling movement, and echoing spiritual rituals inducing ecstatic states, it also included roller-skating and everyday objects such as scissors, apples and twine. 

A range of documentation pertaining to Neagu’s performance at Arnolfini in 1976 will be displayed on the First Floor. 

Rosemary Butcher Dance Company – Passage North East

For over 4 decades, Rosemary Butcher (pictured) worked as one of Europe’s most consistently radical choreographers, with a strong connection to the visual arts. Strongly influenced by her time in New York in the early 1970s, she presented three works at Arnolfini in 1976, the year her dance company was founded. One of these Passage North East, which was designed to be responsive to the space in which it was realised: it was at its most spectacular at the Arnolfini, where it was performed outside the gallery on Bristol Harbourside. The performance began on the other side of the dock from the gallery and where the audience was located. The dancers were then rowed across to complete the work outside the gallery, close to the audience.

A film of the performance will be show in Gallery 5. 


There will also be a range of material relating to each performance piece available to view in our Reading Room.

Exhibiting artists

Paul Neagu

Alastair MacLennan

Rosemary Butcher


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