Making Her Mark, an artist film, uses the poetics of performance to explore the concept of borders from multiple view points: from actual borders crossed, to imagined borders being constructed, to borders torn down, to new ones being drawn.
Who draws the border? What is considered when it is being drawn? How are physical borders experienced?
In Making Her Mark, a woman, performed by Scottish dance artist Tess Letham, sets out to draw a borderline directly onto a landscape. As she struggles with an oversized pencil to execute this physically demanding task, the ridiculousness and futility of her actions are accentuated. Filmed from the air, on land and water, on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, the work highlights the smallness of the human body set against the landscape it wishes to tame or exert control over. Human demand to demarcate the land is called into question as the performer moves through an ever-changing environment. The lines she draws are washed away by the waves, covered by tides and vegetation, and swept into the air by the wind.
In 2019, Mairéad made another piece of work drawing on some of the materials created while working on Making Her Mark – A Line Was Drawn.
Making Her Mark was commissioned and produced by The Wapping Project, with support from Arts Council Northern Ireland and Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, and was first exhibited as a solo exhibition at Taigh Chearsabhagh in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in 2018.
In 2022, Making Her Mark has been acquired for the Arts Council of Ireland Collection.
Mairéad McClean works across film, video, sound and photography, using materials from a diverse range of sources, including found footage, historical and family archives, filmed performances and televisual media. Her single screen films and multi-media installations often focus on the ways in which ordinary people cope with forms of control. Whether the camera follows actual events or reenactments by a performer, the protagonists engage in challenging or circumventing authority. Memory, and how and why we remember, has been the central theme of much of Mairéad’s work.
In 2021/22, she has been the Decade of Centenaries artist in residence at the Trinity Longroom Hub, Trinity College Dublin. In 2014, won the inaugural MAC International Art Prize. Her work No More was acquired for the National Collection of Ireland at The Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2017.
Her work is featured in Artists’ Moving Image in Britain since 1989, edited by Erika Balsom, Lucy Reynolds and Sarah Perks, published by Yale University Press in 2019, and the forthcoming Portraits of Irish Art in Practice by Jennifer Keating, Palgrave Macmillan, 2023.