Ruth Maclennan

photo of Ruth Maclennan

Fine Art Programme; Associate Lecturer, MRes Art: Moving Image

I am an artist based in London. My work includes video installations, photographs, bookworks, performance, interdisciplinary, collaborative and curatorial projects. I recently completed a PhD in Fine Art by practice at the RCA. My research asks the question, in the face of climate change, what can art do? The question is both practical and ethical: a question of art's efficacy, its ways of working, and its uses to audiences. In my films and writing I seek to represent the consequences of climate change as they are experienced by the inhabitants of the north of Scotland and Arctic Russia. My films Call of North and From Time to Time at Sea and my writing document and interpret changing relationships with the sea and the land, bringing to light the interplay of climate change with history and memory, and with the social, economic, environmental and political forces that are shaping places and lives. In both my films and writing a plurality of perspectives and voices are combined to produce polyphonic compositions that resist being reduced to pessimism about climate change. My films premiered at the 58th and 60th London International Film Festivals.

My work comes out of an engagement with a particular place. I put myself in a particular somewhere — a neighbourhood of London, a futuristic capital city, a derelict building, a small village on the White Sea. I investigate the camera as a participant-observer, and the implied presence of a future audience.  My single and multi-channel video installations focus on overlooked moments, material remains and fragments of stories that reveal unresolved conflict. My film Theodosia became disturbingly prescient, shot in Crimea a year before its annexation by Russia. It interweaves the suppressed story of exiled Tartars with Joseph Beuys’ self-mythologising tale of rebirth after being rescued by Tartars, the story of an artists’ colony, and the poet Virgil’s exile, all against the backdrop of a holiday resort. It was screened at ICA, London, and in the solo exhibition, The Faces They Have Vanished. Anarcadia, made in the steppes of Kazakhstan, is a film, monograph and exhibition commissioned by FVU and John Hansard Gallery, which toured nationally and to international film festivals. Other exhibitions and projects include Somewhere Becoming Sea, (Hull City of Culture) Terrapolis, (French School Athens, curated by Whitechapel Gallery) and Interspecies (Arts Catalyst, Cornerhouse). My interdisciplinary project on contemporary understandings of the brain, State of Mind brought artists, scientists and social scientists together at London School of Economics. And while I was Cochemé artist fellow at Central Saint Martins I produced the collaborative site-based project Archway Polytechnic. Other publications include Re: The Archive, The Image and the Very Dead Sheep with Uriel Orlow, (Double agents, 2004), Hide ed. A. Hart, R. Maclennan (AIR, 2011).

I am the author and leader of a new BA course in Moving Image at Open College of the Arts, University of the Creative Arts. I am an associate lecturer at Glasgow University and at other art colleges.