Rory Macbeth

“If I have achieved anything it is by standing on the toes of giants. Haha.” – Rory Macbeth, interviewed by Katharina Klara Jung, Curator Wiesbaden Kunstverei, 2009

“They stand out as wilful “bad objects”, yet eminently collectible, confronting us with their performative “wrongness”. These sculptures are both questionable and questioning. What is it that we want from performance? What do we want to take, or mis-take, from it, and why should we keep mis-taking and mis-representing it?” – Marco Pustianaz, Psi 15 conference paper, Zagreb, 2009

“A beguiling critic of social conventions, Macbeth made a sculpture of a street performer in 2002 and installed it outside the Economist Plaza in London. As passers-by rushed to work, they chucked their change at it, in the assumption that it was a real, live performer. Surely there is no better sign that we live in a commercially oriented society than a lifeless object being given money for doing absolutely nothing.” – Jessica Lack ‘Royal Wings’ March 2007

“‘The Wanderer’ by Franz Kafka is an English translation of a Kafka story undertaken with no knowledge of German and without using a dictionary…just as there is never an absolute semantic fidelity between a conventional translation and an original text, so with Macbeth’s unorthodox translation, there can be no absolute semantic infidelity.” – Sean Ashton, MAP, Autumn 2009

“Macbeth’s Luddite antics… stem more from a desire simultaneously to mesmerise the audience while revealing the tricks of the trade, allowing the lure of mystification to pull away the magic carpet. Exploiting our desire to stand on both sides of the looking glass, such artists know how to use their illusions.” – Neil Mulholland ‘Use Your Illusions’, Tate etc, 2005

“I guess this is all meant as a joke or provocation. I didn’t laugh. I ran.” – Adrian Searle, The Guardian 26 April 2005

“Rory Macbeth is all student, like a brassbandsman’s glove stuck in gin. On his desk in London lies a broken sandal from Central St Martin’s, a crushed paper hat, and a communist militant text that names Frances Neil at the bottom. Frances has perfect pitch, as if randomly freeing a bird whose textile-like fur is snagged – and she stammers venomously at the muledrivers of the Universe.

Rory Macbeth cherishes above all things the night that spits out a curse, less public than a locked zoo in autumn, more hand-held animal than the sickly dabbling of a farmhouse hob. Some beeswax, sucked up in 2005, is altered in a bad way when Saint Servolo excavated a ditch in the lagoon which was flooded. This salty gamble, on which Macbeth had to stop spending, was undeterred, and cost him 20 teeth. A hundred gods closed the scene, and halted psychiatry; upset little men would doubt the word that bends a farewell into shock-therapy for the departing guests. Macbeth broke the 300 metre record.” – from the German text about the work of Rory Macbeth by Dr Sandra Danicke, translated by Rory Macbeth who does not speak German. He is currently translating a Franz Kafka novel ‘The Wanderer’.

“Ever since inventing a student at Central St Martin’s foundation, who, fully enrolled, existed purely in admin and rumour, and who passed the course with a portfolio gleaned at the last minute from bins, I have sought to unpick our assumptions about what actually seems to be around us. The clash of reality with ideals, of language with the real world, and a constant sense of disappointment with what things claim and what they deliver have been my ongoing inspiration.” – Rory Macbeth, 2010


Rory Macbeth works in Leeds and London, and has shown nationally and internationally in a variety of commercial and non-commercial spaces, including V1 Gallery Copenhagen, Tate Britain, Wiesbaden Kunstverien, Laden fur Nichts Leipzig, NGCA Sunderland, and Galerie Sara Guedj, Paris.

He is also the founder and co-director of PILOT, the only large-scale international forum and archive of artists who are not represented by galleries.

Rory Macbeth was featured in Contemporary Art Society’s ARTfutures 2008 held at Bloomberg SPACE, London.