Open Frequency 2008: Andrew Maclean selected by Jenny Brownrigg

Open Frequency 2008: Andrew Maclean selected by Jenny Brownrigg Andrew Maclean, A Bad Man Becoming Bad Man (Still 1), 2007. 8 mins 59 secs. Credit: Andrew Maclean and Gayle Meikle

Jenny Brownrigg profiles the work of Andrew Maclean

Having just read Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club (2006), where men reclaim their masculinity through violence, I am highly refreshed at Andrew Maclean's original take on gender. Maclean views his work as a reaction to this kind of heterosexual masculine stereotype. He cites generic guilt -a white male middleclass kind of guilt about the status quo (by default, being in his favour)- as a big factor in the evolution of his Bad Man persona.

To deal with these issues head-on he has made himself the unlikely protagonist in a series of performances to camera. In 'A Bad Man Becoming Bad Man' (2007), Maclean uses DIY enhancement in order to make himself look even 'straighter'. Curating his own body, he sets about altering the parts he sees as falling short of the masculine ideal. With his white Scottish flesh in a white room, he goes about his subtle transformation, firstly strapping his chest down with a bandage. Moving his focus downwards, he then methodically creates three 'profile' enhancements. The first condom he fills with cotton wool; the second with birdseed. These are then placed on a table next to a balled-up pair of white sports socks. He then tries each option in turn down his trousers, in a bid to 'improve' his manhood. Taking hair from a matchbox, he then sticks it carefully to his own facial stubble, trimming it back until it is a faint suggestion of a more potent masculine aura. The quietness of this solo performance is unsettling. It is not played to an audience for laughs and defies easy classification because it is no stereotypical drag act.

A later video work 'Jumbo Dog' (2007) deals with transgressive material sourced from the nonsensical world of SPAM. Maclean takes their e-mail subject lines, mostly about penis enhancement, and uses them as lyrics that he sings to camera. MacLean, this time dressed in Johnny Cash black, has developed the Bad Man persona further to be more agressively masculine. Bad Man appears as a persuasive on-line advert for Jumbo Dog pills set within a hotmail account page.

Maclean is also a curator and collaborator. The 2007 project 'Nostalgia Erotiques: Lost Porn' ( takes on the subject of the male gaze and objectification of women through his invitation to six women artists to step into a predominantly male arena – the abandonment and subsequent discovery of pornographic magazines in marginal public spaces. The artists were asked to make what they would rather young boys find in bushes. The items ranged from Louisa Preston's series of resin-cast diamonds to Val Norris's magazine 'Touch Me Tiger', a hand-drawn comic featuring a storyline of cute animals discovering illicit material of a human nature.

Maclean is also one of 'The Members' with Derek Lodge and Mickey Mallett. This name (incidentally not a euphemism for the male member), is a democratic reaction to the ubiquitous artist-led Members' Exhibition. For Generators Members Show in 2008, 'The Members' camped out in the gallery during the drop-in work week. Their final performance was of a series of songs, crafted from interviews with the artists and their reaction to submissions. 'The Members' aim to tour to the members' shows of other UK artist-led organisations, in order to make a new piece of work each time that reflects upon that particular gallery and its community of artists.

Jenny Brownrigg, November 2008

Artist's biography

Andrew Maclean (b.1980, Kirkcaldy) graduated in 2007 with MSc Electronic Imaging from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and in 2003 with BA (Hons) Fine Art, from the same institution. From 2004 – 2006 he was a Committee member of the artist group Generator, Dundee. Selected group shows and performances include: Generator Projects Members Show 2008: The Members, a collaboration with Michael Mallet and Derek Lodge; Generator Projects Members Show (2007); Meadow Mill Building Machine (Wasps Meadow Mill, 2006), a site-specific performance; Word Processor (DCA, Dundee 2006), as part of Derek Lodge's project; They Had Four Years (Generator Projects, Dundee, 2004). Curated projects include: 'Yuck 'n Yum', a Dundee-based art 'zine (2006-); 'Nostalgic Erotiques: Lost Porn, Out of the Blue Drill Hall' (Edinburgh, 2007). Published writings include 'Filthy Habit' (2006), a piece for Amy Todman's publication Who'd Be A Man. Maclean is chief editor of the collective fanzine Yuck n Yum, and the Winter issue is due to be launched in November 2008. The artist has also been invited to contribute to Luke Collin's publication Erotic Cakes, which is expected to be released in early 2009.

About Jenny Brownrigg

Jenny Brownrigg is University of Dundee Exhibitions Department Curator at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (2002-). She graduated with BA (hons) Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art (1990-4) and MFA at DJCAD (1996). Previous posts have included; Gallery Co-ordinator at Changing Room Gallery, Stirling (1998-9), and Project Officer at Grizedale Arts, Cumbria (2000-2).

As an artist Jenny undertook several residencies including the Scottish Arts Council Pier Arts Centre Fellowship, Orkney (1998). She is also the author of two publications; 'Nature Centre', the result of a writer's residency with Grizedale Arts, and 'Romantic Vanguard', a screenplay which was developed during her artist residency with Royston Road Project in Blackhill, Glasgow (2002). She writes articles for magazines including Untitled and The Map. She was co-curator of The Young Artists' Biennial Absent Without Leave (AWOL) , 2nd Edition, Bucharest, Romania, Oct 14 - Nov 16 2006. 

Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of artists to watch out for over the coming year. Open Frequency represents a forward-looking glance today of the artists who will be setting the agenda tomorrow.