LIVE ART DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (LADA) (London)
Screening programme: OUCH - An Anthology on Pain. Featured artists include Ron Athey, Marcel•Li Antunez Roca, Franko B, Marina Abramovic, Rocio Boliver, Regina Jose Galindo, Oleg Kulik, Cassils, Wafaa Bilal, ORLAN, Martin O'Brien, Nicola Hunter (formerly Canavan) & Ernst Fischer, Bob Flanagan, Petr Pavlensky, Kira O'Reilly, jamie lewis hadley.
Courtesy LADA and the artists.
LADA. Exhibition view of the curated screening program OUCH - An Anthology of Pain at the III Venice International Performance Art Week 2016. Photograph by VestAndPage.
The Live Art Development Agency (LADA) is a Centre for Live Art: a knowledge centre, a production centre for programmes and publications, a research centre setting artists and ideas in motion, and an online centre for digital experimentation, representation and dissemination.
LADA works to supports those who make, watch, research, study, teach, produce, present and write about Live Art in the UK and internationally, and to create new artistic frameworks, legitimize unclassifiable art forms, give agency to underrepresented artists, and generate the conditions in which diversity, innovation and risk in contemporary culture can thrive.
LADA houses an open access research library, runs an online shop; develops models of development and discourse, contributes to research and education, increases access to Live Art through projects and publishing, and coordinates the Live Art UK network.
At the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK, LADA curates and presentes the screening program Ouch –
Pain and Performance: "I see pain as an inevitable byproduct of
interesting performance." Dominic Johnson
According to Wikipedia ‘pain’ is an “unpleasant feeling often caused
by intense or damaging stimuli…(it) motivates the individual to withdraw from
damaging situations and to avoid similar experiences in the future.” But for
many artists and audiences the opposite is just as true, and pain within the
context of performance is a challenging, exhilarating and profound experience.
Ouch is a
collection of documentation and artists’ films looking at pain and performance.
The works are not necessarily performances about pain, but in some way involve or invoke pain in their making or reading or experience
- both the pain artists cause themselves within the course of their work,
whether intentional or not, and the experiences of audiences as they are
invited to inflict pain on artists or are subjected to pain and discomfort
The selected works feature eminent and ground breaking artists from
around the world whose practices address provocative issues including the lived
experiences of illness, the aging female body, cosmetic surgery, addiction, embodied
public protest, animalistic impulses, blood letting, staged fights, acts of self
harm and flagellation, and what can happen when you invite audiences to be
complicit in performance actions.
artists: Ron Athey, Marcel•Li Antunez Roca, Franko B, Marina Abramovic, Rocio Boliver, Regina Jose Galindo, Oleg Kulik, Cassils, Wafaa Bilal, ORLAN, Martin O'Brien, Nicola Hunter & Ernst Fischer, Bob Flanagan, Petr Pavlensky, Kira O'Reilly, jamie lewis hadley.
Previous versions of Ouch have
been shown at Martin O’Brien’s Discharge in January 2013 and the Wellcome Collection’s In Pursuit of Pain in July 2016.
Please note that this screening contains documentation of some
historical performances for which the films are of variable quality.
With many thanks to all of the featured artists, Sheree Rose, and
Cystic Fibrosis Song, 1990s
A short film of Bob Flanagan parodying a famous Disney song to
convey his experiences of living with Cystic Fibrosis. The performance took place at Los Angeles
Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in the early 1990's and is
featured in the award winning 1997 film Sick:
The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist.
Bob Flanagan (1952 – 1996) was an American performance artist, stand-up
comic, writer poet and lifelong sufferer from cystic fibrosis, whose S&M
experiences helped him manage the pain of his illness.
Powers That Be, 2016
Cassils collaborates with fight choreographer Mark Steger to stage a brutal
two-person fight. Illuminated by car headlights in the depths of a parking
garage, Cassils is the sole figure, sparring with an invisible force. The
stereos of the surrounding cars broadcast a multi-channel score of static noise
and radio samples designed by Kadet Kuhne. By amplifying the sociopolitical
conflicts at each performance location with sound, The Powers That Be explores the radical unrepresentability of
certain forms of trauma and violence. Here the radio signal is a transmission
of site-specific issues, both proximate and distant. The
Powers That Be addresses the mediation of violence by calling into question
the roles of witness and aggressor on the part of the spectator.
Cassils is an artist who uses the physical body as sculptural mass with
which to rupture societal norms. Forging a series of powerfully trained bodies
for different performative and formal purposes; it is with sweat, blood and
sinew that they construct a visual critique and discourse around physical and
gender ideologies and histories.
Dog House, 1996
A short extract from documentation of Kulik’s participation in Manifest 1’s Interpol group exhibition in Fargfabriken,
in 1996. It was suggested that Kulik produce his Doghouse project within Interpol, an exhibition devoted to the
problem of communication. The artist was invited as a sort of a ready-made to
stay in a specially built house. The audience was warned that any communication
with the artist who denounced the language of culture is dangerous and that no
one should cross the borders of his territory. Following the logic of this
action Kulik bit a Mr. Lindquist who had neglected the warning. Kulik was
arrested by the Swedish police. This performance and the exhibition as a whole
aroused scandalous response from the media. Interpol was called an event that divided the art world into East and West.
Oleg Kulik is a Moscow based performance artist, photographer and
curator, most renowned for his performances as a dog, including Mad Dog, Reservoir Dog and I Bite America and America Bites Me.
Marina Abramovic (Serbia/USA)
On ‘Rhythm O’ 1974, 2013
A short film in which the artist talks about one of her most famous
works, a six-hour performance at Galleria Studio Morra in Naples during which
Abramović allowed herself to be used by the public in any way they chose, using
72 objects of pleasure and pain placed on a table, including a rose,
perfume, honey, wine, scissors, a scalpel, nails, a metal bar, and a gun loaded
with one bullet.
RHYTHM 0 Documentary, 2013. Directed and Edited by Milica Zec.
Video courtesy of Marina Abramovic Institute
RHYTHM 0, 1974. Studio Morra, Naples. Ph: Donatelli Sbarra.
Courtesy Marina Abramovic and Sean Kelly Gallery New York
is one of the seminal artists of our time.
Since the early 1970s she has pioneered the use of performance art as a
visual art form. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has
withstood pain, exhaustion, and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual
On ‘Shoot An Iraqi’, 2007
The artist discusses his provocative interactive performance in which,
over the course of 30 days, members of the public were invited to fire a
paintball gun at him over the internet. He was shot at 60,000 times.
The award-winning Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal is known internationally
for his on-line performative and interactive works provoking dialogue about
international politics and internal dynamics. Bilal’s work is constantly
informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland and existing simultaneously
in two worlds – his home in the “comfort zone” of the U.S. and his
consciousness of the “conflict zone” in Iraq.
Successful Operation, 1990
A short film of the
artist preparing for cosmetic surgery in which the operating theatre is turned
into a different kind of theatrical space.
ORLAN is an artist working between Paris, Los Angeles
and New York. She creates sculptures, photographs, performances, videos,
videogames, and augmented reality, using scientific and medical techniques like
surgery and biogenetic. Always mixed with humor, often-on parody or even
grotesque, her provocative artworks can shock because she shakes up the
Ron’s Story, 2001
A short film of early performances by Ron Athey on his experiences
of addiction and self harm, created by Janez Janša of Aksioma, Slovenia, with original music by
Ron Athey is an iconic figure in contemporary art and performance. In
his frequently bloody portrayals of life, death, crisis, and fortitude in the
time of AIDS, Athey calls into question the limits of artistic practice. These
limits enable Athey to explore key themes including gender, sexuality, radical
sex, queer activism, postpunk and industrial culture, tattooing and body
modification, ritual, and religion.
Rocio Boliver (Mexico)
Times Go By and I Can’t Forget
You: Between Menopause and Old Age, 2013
documentation of a performance at Grace Exhibition Space, New York in which the
artist parodies a catwalk show and critiques representations and expectations
of the (ageing) female body.
practice is a sharp and focused critique of the many repressive ideologies that
burden the lives of women in Mexico. “In this pasteurized society, I
prefer to cause disgust, hatred, rejection, confusion, weariness,
anxiety, hostility, fear ... to further promote mental asepsis.”
Radical Artist In Court – Ukraine Today News Item, 2015
A Ukrainian TV news feature from November 2015 about Pavlensky’s arrest
and trial for a performance action in which he set fire to the wooden entrance
doors of the Federal Security Service building (former KGB headquarters) on
Lubyanka Square in Moscow to draw attention to the terror tactics employed by
the Russian Security Services.
Petr Pavlensky is a Russian performance artist and political
activist. His works include Seam (2012) in which he sewed his mouth shut in
protest at the imprisonment of Pussy Riot, Carcass (2013) in which he was wrapped naked in barbed wire, and Fixation (2013) in which he nailed his scrotum to Red Square
as "a metaphor for the apathy,
political indifference and fatalism of modern Russian society". He was
awarded the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in 2016.
Taste of Flesh, 2015
A durational performance in which O’Brien turned his attention
to the theme of contagion extending to the fear of contamination associated
with both the sick body, and our virtual online (projected) identity. In doing
so, he highlighted recent acute public anxiety around the risk of infection and
invasion, both IRL and online as he references the surge in depictions of the
zombie in popular culture. The traditional sci-fi figure of contagion – the
zombie - often reflects environmental, political, or societal concerns, all of
which are referenced in this piece.
Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for the European project – Trust me, I’m an Artist: towards an ethics
of art/science collaboration.
Martin O’Brien’s practice uses physical endurance, disgust
and pain-based practices to explore the meaning of being born with a life
threatening disease (cystic fibrosis) by confronting others’ responses to
Don’t Leave Me This Way, 2009
Don’t Leave Me This Way marked a shift in Franko B’s performance practice,
formalising his departure from blood-based work. Here he allows the viewer time
to look at his naked body and approach it as a sculptural form; heavily
tattooed and scarred, voluptuous in shape and size. Franko B’s performances have
always left metaphorical marks on the psyches of vulnerable spectators, moving
empathetic viewers with the visceral charge of the prone body. If the ways in
which he could exact this effect through bleeding were exhausted, then Don’t
Leave Me This Way continued the scene of wounding in the realm of the
metaphorical, inscribing his form in painful vision.
Franko B makes drawings, installations, sculpture and
performance as well as working in many other mediums and disciplines. He lives
and works in London. He is Professor of Sculpture at Professor of Sculpture at
l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Macerata.
Epizoo is a real life
videogame in which the spectator controls Marcel.li’s body by means of a
mechatronic system involving a computer, a mouse, a robotic exoskeleton and a
set of pneumatic mechanisms. The pneumatic devices move the artist’s nose,
buttocks, pectorals, mouth and ears while he remains upright on a rotating
circular platform, taking whatever pain is inflicted upon him. Epizoo was one of the first artistic applications of computer technology to the human
body. The work caused a sensation in the 1990s as it reflected what can happen
when people are given permission to control another’s body and the ironic, and
even cruel, paradox rising from the coexistence between virtual digital
iniquity and the performer’s physical vulnerability.
Marcel.li Antunez Roca is widely known as a founder of La Fura dels Baus
and for his mechanotronic performances and robotic installations. Since the
1980s Antúnez’s work has been based on a continuous observation of how human
desires are expressed and in what specific situations they appear. In 2014, the
exhibition and publication Systematurgy.
Actions, Devices and Drawings focused on his Dramaturgy based on
A performance in which Galindo wrestles a female professional wrestler.
Regina José Galindo is a
Guatemalan performance artist known for the political themes of her work. In
her work Who Can Erase the Traces (2003)
she walked from the Congress of Guatemala building to the National Palace,
dipping her bare feet at intervals in a white basin full of human blood as a
protest against the presidential candidacy of Guatemala’s former dictator José
Efraín Ríos Montt. She received the Golden Lion award for artists under 30 at
the Venice Biennale in 2005 for her video Himenoplastia which depicted the surgical reconstruction of her hymen.
Ernst Fischer and Nicola Hunter (UK/Germany)
A man and a woman, sitting on suitcases, are engaged in an act of
ritual self-flagellation, which is periodically interrupted and thus never
reaches the level of passionate intensity it is meant to induce. After
some time, first one, then the other, cover their body, pack up their belongings
and leave, the secret flower of their failure burning on their skin.
Videographer: Manuel Vason. Editor: Michelle Outram.
Over the last 10 years Nicola Hunter has been developing a feminist
practice which is rooted in action based performance and spans live work,
documentations of its products and traces and the re-presentation of these in
other forms. With performance at its core, she investigates themes
around abjection and ritual with a focus on interpreting or creating
experiences in her own body.
Ernst Fischer was
born in Germany and moved to the UK in 1979. Between 1986 and 1997 he
staged performances in his home in South London, which was renamed Brixton
heArt Room. He is particularly concerned with issues of belonging,
domesticity and homeliness, and his work seeks to explore how we occupy as well
as ‘uncannily’ disrupt a variety of spaces – from our own bodies to social
conventions and political/ideological systems.
Kira O’Reilly (UK/Ireland)
Wet Cup, 2000
A performance which draws on the ancient medical technique of wet
cupping for the treatment of hysterical women. Heated glass ‘cups’ are placed
over small cuts on O’Reilly’s body, and as they cool they create a vacuum which
slowly extracts the artist’s blood.
“From my perspective my
art works have ever been about pain, but I remember at a talk years ago Susan
Hiller commenting that the artist’s intention and ideas are only one of the
many possibilities of understanding any artwork, a view which I find very
inspiring. Later, when looking at art works by and reading about Gina Pane I
realised that really the art and meaning of the work occurs somewhere between
the art work and the viewer. The works I
have made that have involved explicit interventions into my body via openings
and bleedings were a series of enquires, the doing of each one opening up a new
question that could only be responded to in the act of another performance i.e.
a live and actual doing with an audience/viewer/witness. These were questions
specific to the era these works were being made and were concerned with themes
like but not exclusively; how do we view and watch bodies – in particular
female ones? What are the dynamics of power that are active when we watch and
what happens when ones body-as-image’s interior is revealed? Then, where does a
subject end and begin? Does one’s subjectivity end at the skin? What is it when
one’s bodily substance i.e. blood is spilt, is it still oneself? How might we understand
the materiality of The Body and ones own intimate and acutely specific and
personal body? How might one consider it sculpturally with its intrinsic
qualities of mutability and its biological and physiological functions? To attribute meanings of pain to these art
works seemed to me to be to problematic, to remove their joy, expansion and
jouisssance, their curiosity and generative potentials, their erotic
possibilities and dynamic ambivalence; and instead to collapse them into narrow
parameters of easy diagnosis. And of course the works were not painful, at
least not for me.” Kira O’Reilly,
Helsinki, October 2016
Kira O’Reilly’s practice, both wilfully interdisciplinary and entirely
undisciplined, stems from a visual art background; it employs performance,
biotechnical practices and writing with which to consider speculative
reconfigurations around The Body.
Recent works have seen her practice develop across several contexts from art,
science and technology to performance, Live Art, combat sports and martial arts,
and movement work.
jamie lewis hadley (UK)
this rose made of leather, 2012
Competing against and subverting the use of a stack of
ceramic tiles - exactly his height - lewis hadley explores the politics of
blood and masculinity through strategies of repetition and a display of
physical endurance. The performance also aims to highlight the functionality of
the body, with each tile documenting the body’s ability to heal.
jamie lewis hadley utilises his career as a former
professional wrestler as a departure point to create performances, actions and
installations that explore, both aesthetically and thematically, issues of
deterioration, endurance, pain and violence. His recent research and creative
output is concerned with performing medicine and the history of bloodletting as
a medical practice. He values blood as a communicative tool and attempts to use
it to create images that are affective, challenging and beautiful.
Video by SPILL TV.