Stelarc, Ear On Arm Suspension (2015) Photograph by Polixeni Papapetrou


With the cultural contribution of LADA – Live Art Development Agency, at PROJECT ID – In Between Identities VestAndPage, Performance Site Den Haag and Ruimtevaart Den Haag organise a Study Movie Room consisting of performances on video by eminent and groundbreaking artists whose practices address crucial issues of our contemporaneity.

Subversions of identity are here expressed through lived experiences of illness, suffered abuse, addiction, self-harm, pain, animalistic impulses or addressing topics such as migration, gender trouble, feminism, representations of the ageing body, applied sciences, new technologies, the nature of time and what can happen when the performer involves the audiences to be complicit in challenging embodied actions.

All these works appear to be performed for the sake of progress and freedom, for art and for agency in a “quest for identity” driven by the artists’ urgency to contravene staled ways of thinking and obsolete norms detrimental to our social evolution. Political concerns are, in fact, either openly or intimately entwined to the philosophical, the personal, the psychological, the scientific and the spiritual. Here the artist’s body serves as a tool that tells of civil disobedience and poetic resistance to mark our time. Now and again it becomes a site of experimental research to express “that which” is most profoundly human to look at our life and the future from new perspectives and ultimately love – even though sometimes to the extreme.


PROJECT ID – In Between Identities | Study Movie Room presents:

  1. OUCHAn Anthology on Pain and Performance 
    Video review curated by LADA
    With works by Marina Abramović, Marcel·lí Antunez Roca, Ron Athey, Franko B, Wafaa Bilal, Rocio Boliver, Cassils, Bob Flanagan, Regina José Galindo, jamie lewis hadley, Nicola Hunter & Ernst Fischer, Oleg Kulik, Martin O’Brien, Kira O’Reilly, Petr Pavlensky.
  2. In Between Identities
    Video review curated by VestAndPage
    With works by Marilyn Arsem, Ron Athey, Franko B, Wafaa Bilal, Bob Flanagan, Norbert Klassen, Yoko Ono, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Stelarc, VestAndPage.

July 5th 12-6 pm, July 6th and 7th 12-11 pm at Ruimtevaart, Helena van Doeverenplantsoen 3, The Hague.


Previous versions of OUCH have been shown at Martin O’Brien’s Discharge in January 2013, the Wellcome Collection’s In Pursuit of Pain in July 2016 and the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK Fragile Body – Material Body in December 2016. Please note that the screening contains documentation of some historical performances for which the films are of variable quality. 


Performance Site Den Haag, Ruimtevaart Den Haag and VestAndPage are deeply grateful to all of the featured artists, Jon Hendricks, Boris Nieslony, Sheree Rose, Janez Janša, LADA and its director Lois Keidan for their invaluable, generous cultural support.


OUCH– An Anthology on Pain and Performance

Video review curated by LADA

‘Rhythm 0 Documentary’ 1974, 2013, 3’07”

Marina Abramovic, Rhythm 0 (1974), Photograph by Donatelli Sbarra

In this short documentary, Marina Abramović talks about one of her most famous work: Rhythm 0. It was a six-hour performance at Galleria Studio Morra in Naples during which she 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. The On ‘RHYTHM 0’ 1974 documentary, 2013, is directed and edited by Milica Zec. Courtesy Marina Abramović Institute. It contains photo documentation by Donatelli Sbarra of the live performance RHYTHM 0 that Marina Abramović performed in 1974 at Studio Morra, Naples. Courtesy Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.

Marina Abramović 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 transformation.


Epizoo, 1994, 8’29”

Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca, Epizoo (1994), Photograph by Luis Arellano

Epizoo is a real-life videogame in which the spectator controls Marcel.lí’s body through 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 permitted to control another’s body and the ironic, and even cruel, paradox arising from the coexistence between virtual digital iniquity and the performer’s physical vulnerability.

Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca is widely known as a founder of La Fura dels Baus theatre collective, and for his mechatronic performances and robotic installations. Since the 1980s his work has been based on a continuous observation of how human desires are expressed and in what specific situations they appear. Actions, Devices and Drawings focused on his Dramaturgy based on computational systems.


Ron’s Story, 2001, 4’44”

Ron Athey, Ron’s Story, Still from the video. A film created by Janez Janša of Aksioma, Slovenia, 2001, with original music by BAST.

This short film created by Janez Janša of Aksioma, Slovenia, with original music by BAST, displays excerpts of Ron Athey’s early performances based on his experiences of addiction and self-harm.

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.


Don’t Leave Me This Way, 2007, 5’18”

Franko B, Don’t Leave Me This Way (2009). Photograph by Hugo Glendinning

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. This video is an extract from the documentary by Victor Ibanez about Franko B’s performance, realised in collaboration with Kamal Ackarie.

Franko B makes drawings, installations, sculpture and performance as well as working in many other mediums and disciplines. He lives and works in London and is Professor of Sculpture at Fine Arts Academy of Turin (IT).


On ‘Shoot An Iraqi’, 2007, 2’21”

Wafaa Bilal, 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.


Times Go By and I Can’t Forget You: Between Menopause and Old Age, 2013, 4’18”

Rocío Boliver, Times Go By and I Can’t Forget You, Photograph by Alex Eisenberg

The video is an extract from the documentation of a performance that Rocío Boliver performed at Grace Exhibition Space, New York, in which she parodies a catwalk show and critiques representations and expectations of the (ageing) female body.

Rocío Boliver’s practice is a sharp and focused critique of the many repressive ideologies that burden the lives of women in Mexico. She says: “In this pasteurized society, I prefer to cause disgust, hatred, rejection, confusion, weariness, anxiety, hostility, fear… to further promote mental asepsis.”


The Powers That Be, 2016, 2’24”

Cassils, The Power That Be (2015) Still from the video

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 socio-political 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 a 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.


Cystic Fibrosis Song, 1990s, 1’32”

Bob Flanagan, Cystic Fibrosis Song. Extract from the 1997 film Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, Still from the movie.

In this short video, Bob Flanagan parodies 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 1990s 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. Bob Flanagan and his wife artist Sheree Rose Collection are preserved in ONE Archives at the USC Libraries (University of Southern California).


Lucha, 2002, 3’37”

Regina José Galindo, Lucha (2002) Photograph by Yasmine Hage

The video presents a performance in which Regina José Galindo fights a female professional wrestler. Being an artist who always openly faces, criticises and confronts acts of crime and violence perpetrated against women and people through her art, as many of her live performances and on video, Lucha speaks of courage, struggle and resistance on the part of the everyday woman.

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 that depicted the surgical reconstruction of her hymen.


jamie lewis hadley (UK)
this rose made of leather, 2012, 9’10” 

jamie lewis hadley, This Rose Made Of Leather (2012) Photograph by Pari Naderi

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 courtesy SPILL TV.


Passion/Flower, 2012, 4’02”

Nicola Hunter and Ernst Fischer, Passion/Flower (2012) Photograph by Manuel Vason

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 ten years, Nicola Hunter has been developing a feminist practice, which is rooted in action based performance and spans live work, documentation 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 bodies to social conventions and political/ideological systems.


Dog House, 1996, 4’10”

Oleg Kulik, Dog House (1996), Still (bw) from the video

The video is a short extract from documentation of Kulik’s participation in Manifest 1’s Interpol group exhibition in Fargfabriken, Stockholm 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 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. The Swedish police arrested Kulik. 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, I Bite America and America Bites Me.


Taste of Flesh/Bite me I’m Yours, 2015, 2’59”

Martin O’Brien, Taste of Flesh/Bite me I’m Yours. Photograph by The Arts Catalyst

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 illness.


Kira O’Reilly (UK/Ireland)
Wet Cup, 2000, 2’29

Kira O’Reilly (UK/Ireland)
Wet Cup, 2000, 2’29

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 never been about pain, but I remember during a talk years ago Susan Hiller commented that the artist’s intention and ideas are only one of the many possibilities of understanding any artwork, a view which I find inspiring in it’s generous and generative potentials. Later, when looking at art works by, and reading about Gina Pane I realised that the meaning of any art work occurs somewhere between the art work and the viewer, it is the encounter between both. The works I made that 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 by the act of another performance i.e. a live and actual doing with an audience/viewer/witness. These were questions specific to the era during which these works were 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; risking the removal of their joy, expansion and jouissance; their curiosity and generative potentials, their erotic possibilities and dynamic ambivalence; and instead possibly collapsing them into narrow parameters of an easy diagnosis. And of course the works were not painful, at least not for me.” (Text and bio updated 5th June 2019)


Radical Artist In Court – Ukraine Today News Item, 2015, 1’57”

Petr Pavelnsky, Radical Artist in Court: Pavlensky. Still from the video

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.


In Between Identities

Video review curated by VestAndPage

100 Ways to Consider Time, 2015, 8’18’’

Marilyn Arsem, 100 Ways to Consider Time. Day 10: Melting (2015) Photograph by J Rice

100 Ways to Consider Time has been presented by Marilyn Arsem at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for six hours a day, every day, for 100 days – an invitation to pause and experience the present moment, providing a temporary respite to the frenetic pace of our modern lives.
Marilyn Arsem has been creating live events since 1975, from solo gallery performances to large-scale, site-specific works. Thematically, her work has ranged from feminist deconstruction of images of traditional women’s work, to performances concerning the Cold War, to the impact of US imperialism in countries throughout the world, to works about environmental issues. The topic to which she has continually returned over the years has been our understanding of time, its passing, and mortality. Over the years Arsem has experimented with different ways of designing performances so that audiences share responsibility in making the work. In some cases, the audience is given control over the actions of the performer, in other works the audience has taken a specific role in creating the event. This reflects an interest in redefining power structures and illuminating how meaning is generated and shared between people.


Forest – Jon John Estate Cut, directed by Ron Athey, 2018, 10’25’’

Ron Athey, Forest – Jon John Estate Cut (2018) Still from the video

Filmed in the studio and then later performed live in Los Angeles, this is the more extended version of a video that Ron Athey made for his new work Acephalous Monster. The video is a gift to the estate of performance artist Jon John (prematurely passed away at the age of 33 in 2017), as some of the pieces in the video were objects that Jon John saw as his relics.

Best known for his boundary-pushing body mutilations, Ron Athey has been pursuing the transcendent and sublime for more than three decades. Athey considers that one of the artist’s roles is to invent new forms of ritual and celebration, to conjure the sacred as an antidote to the empty individualism of contemporary life. For his new work, Acephalous Monster, Athey turns to the Acéphale, the figure of the headless man, which inspired George Bataille’s secret society of the same name to combat nihilism and fascism before the Second World War in France. The headless or beheaded man is a powerful symbol of radical transformation, the driving force of all of Athey’s performances pushing towards the merging of humans and gods.


Milk & Blood, 2015, 43’08

Franko B, Milk & Blood (2015) Photograph by Riccardo Attanasio

Milk & Blood is a performance held by Franko B on 29.07.2015 at Toynbee Studios, London (UK). It appropriates the aesthetics of boxing for 32 minutes rounds of mental and physical endurance during which Franko explores themes of pain, eroticism, revulsion, ecstasy and masculinity. The performance becomes a metaphor for social struggle and the ability to overcome.

Internationally recognised as a pioneering performance artist, Franko B uses both his body and a punching bag as democratic tools, embodying notions of the personal, political and poetic. In this unprecedented performance, Franko B returns to the seminal aesthetics of the wound. Milk will bleed. He says: “Looking introspectively, I can truly say that I have successfully wrecked my career as a “bleeding” artist and continued my lust for life thanks to language.”

Franko B’s Milk & Blood performance has been supported by Arts Council England and presented in collaboration with a/political and thank to Lee Steggles, Dawn Manners, Becky Haghpanah-Shirwan, Steve Wald, Yuki Kobayashi, Thomas Qualmann, Gill Lloyd, The Bureau of Silly Ideas, Gamba Shoes, Hillary Wili and Katie McPhee.


3rdi, 2010-2011, 8’39’’

Wafaa Bilal, 3rdi (2010) Still from the video

In his own words, Wafaa Bilal says: “I am nothing if not a storyteller. My work to date has been concerned with the communication of public and private information to an audience so that it may be retold, distributed. The stories I tell are political dramas, which unfold through my past experiences and into the present where they interact with the currency of media as the dialectic of aesthetic pleasure and pain. Through various layers of distribution and interpretation, pictures are drawn using interactive models established through the stories’ (technological) framework where they are revealed and shared. With an audience locked in participation, my story may be retold. The 3rdi is just such a platform for the telling and retelling of another story. A camera temporarily implanted on the back of my head, it spontaneously and objectively captures the images – one per minute – that make up my daily life, and transmits them to a website for public consumption. During my journey from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, on to Kuwait and then the U.S., I left many people and places behind. The images I have of this journey are inevitably ephemeral, held as they are in my memory. Many times while I was in transit and chaos, the images failed to register fully, I did not have the time to absorb them. Now, in hindsight, I wish I could have recorded these images so that I could look back on them, to have them serve as a reminder and record of all the places I was forced to leave behind and may never see again.”


Why?, 1985, 3’33’’

Bob Flanagan, Why? (1985) Still from the film

In Why? Bob Flanagan described with merciless honesty, courageous wit and candidness stripped of any pretence and artifice, his tormented childhood and unbearable environment of immense pain and agony that later on birthed his masochistic desires. Featured in his movie Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997), Why? is a spoken poem-manifesto written in 1985, complicated by layers of emotion, pain, passion and lived situations that conjure all in once to express Flanagan’s intrinsic humanness and lust for life.

Los Angeles writer and artist Bob Flanagan created performances with Sheree Rose that shocked and inspired audiences. He combined text, video, and live performance to create a highly personal but universal exploration of childhood, sex, illness, and mortality. The Pain Journal, Flanagan’s last finished work, is an extraordinary chronicle of the final year of his life before his death from cystic fibrosis in 1996 at the age of forty-three.


Living Museum of Fetishized Identities, 1999-2002, 1’30”
Welcome to the Third World, 2004, 1’35’’
Instant Identity Ritual, 2005, 1’48’’

Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Welcome to the Third World (2004) Still from the video

As part of a more extensive series of works by the legendary performance troupe known as La Pocha Nostra, co-founded by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Living Museum of Fetishized Identities depicts Gómez-Peña in a blend of costumes while running a pair of scissors over his facial features. In a possible attempt to remove his fetishized identity, Gómez-Peña leaves those watching in a state of unease.
Welcome to the Third World is a clear example of how Gómez-Peña uses his cultural stereotypes to mock fetishized views of his identity. In his viral performance, he highlights the common perceptions of the Chicano lifestyle while dressed in a wide array of cross-cultural costume. In this satirical depiction, Gómez-Peña states: “To be an American is a complicated matter. You are in relation to the multiplicity of looks you are able to display. I am brown therefore I am underdeveloped. I wear a moustache; therefore, I am Mexican. I gesticulate, therefore I am Latino. I am horny; therefore, I am a sexist. I experiment; therefore, I am not authentic. I speak about politics; therefore, I am un-American. My art is indescribable; therefore, I am a performance artist. I talk, therefore I am. Period.”
In Instant Identity Ritual (video by Gustavo Vasquez) Gómez-Peña is seen downing a bottle of his favourite hot salsa while an alternative, experimental rock song plays. In the end, he puts on a ski mask with ‘EZLN’ (standing for Zapatista Army of National Liberation) written on it. In the video, he is seen taking multiple Mexican stereotypes (love for salsa and the Mexican ski mask with relations to a Mexican revolutionary militant group) while bringing in music from an American rock band.

Born in Mexico, Guillermo Gómez-Peña moved to the United States in 1978 to attend the California Institute of the Arts. A self-identified Chicano (Mexican-American), Gómez-Peña describes his art as border art due to the hybrid of the two cultures that help shape him. He says: “I make art about the misunderstandings that take place at the border zone. However, for me, the border is no longer located at any fixed geopolitical site. I carry the border with me, and I find new borders wherever I go.”


Untitled, 2009, 16’17’’

Norbert Klassen, Untitled (2009) Still from the video by Samanta Cinquini

The video is the documentation of a performance that Norbert Klassen performed in 2009 at the festival Arte de Acción organised by Sinberifora A.C. in Valencia. Klassen slowly cuts his front to the sound of Bolero by Maurice Ravel. Master of the “performative presence”, Norbert Klassen always wanted to dance the Bolero. Without being able to dance, he found another solution: “I stand motionless under the stage lights, in a festive glitter dress, and cut myself eighteen times in my front, accompanied by the ever-increasing rhythm of the music: The blood dripping down over my body is the dance!” Courtesy The Black Kit – ASA Bank Archive, Cologne (DE).

Norbert Klassen (1941-2011) was a German performance artist, actor, stage director, educator and organizer of performance art events. He has mainly lived and worked in Bern, repeatedly shaping and challenging the Swiss cultural scene. Inspired by the Fluxus movement, John Cage, and the Living Theatre, he explored boundaries between theatre and performance to armour the idea of existential freedom along the way, and to learn to introduce oneself as a real person, telling stories to the people without a script. Klassen was one of the founding members of the art group Black Market International (BMI).


YOKO ONO (Nutopia)
CUT PIECE, 1964/1965, 8’27”
CUT PIECE, 1964/2003, 46’5”

Yoko Ono, Cut Piece (1965) Still from the film by Albert and David Maysles

In Cut Piece, Yoko Ono sat on a stage wearing a black dress, with a pair of scissors in front of her, and invited viewers to participate by cutting her dress. Near the end of her performance, participants cut more and more fabric of her dress, until it was left in tatters.
The first film screened here is of the germinal live performance that Yoko Ono held at the New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall (March 21, 1965), filmed by Albert and David Maysles (1965), directed by Yoko Ono and performed by the artist in the context of “New Works of Yoko Ono.”
The second video shown documents Cut Piece performed by Yoko Ono at Théâtre du Ranelagh, Paris, on September 15, 2003, in conjunction with the exhibition, Yoko Ono: Women’s Room, at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.Yoko Ono’s scores and early statements concerning Cut Piece are as follows:
Yoko Ono’s scores and early statements concerning Cut Piece are as follows:

My body is the scar of my mind
y.o. ’64
From The Stone, 1966


First version for single performer:

Performer sits on stage with pair of scissors placed in front of him.

It is announced that members of the audience may come on stage-one at
a time-to cut a small piece of the performer’s clothing to take with them.

Performer remains motionless throughout the piece.

Piece ends at the performer’s option.

From Strip Tease Show, early spring 1966


In a second version, Ono amended the instructions slightly: 


Second version for audience:

It is announced that members of the audience may cut each other’s clothing.

The audience may cut as long as they want.

From Strip Tease Show, early spring 1966


In 2003, When Ono performed the work at the age of 70 at Théâtre du Ranelagh in Paris, she noted that her motivation had shifted from rage to love, and a desire for world peace: 


Following the political changes through the year after 9/11, I felt terribly vulnerable – like the most delicate wind could bring me tears.
It was as though everything I believed in was rapidly melting away, while I continued walking still carrying my beliefs.

The front page of the papers and the TV news were feeding us what they wanted to – assaulting our senses. Men without faces were at work. Force and intimidation were in the air. People were silenced.
I always thought I wanted to live forever, that I was one person who was not scared of doing so. But would I want to live surrounded by this world as we know now?
Some people went to Palestine to act as human shields. That really touched me. If all of us stood to become human shields instead of machine gunning each other… My immediate thought was to join them.
I almost did, and didn’t.
Later, the world heard of the death of Rachel Corrie. She made her stand for all of us.
Cut Piece is my hope for World Peace. Because today is a very special day for me. Like every day. And I’m determined to cherish every moment.
When I first performed this work, in 1964, I did it with some anger and turbulence in my heart. This time I do it with love for you, for me, and for the world.
Come and cut a piece of my clothing wherever you like the size of less than a postcard, and send it to the one you love.
I’ll see you.

y.o. August 1, 2003


STELARC (Cyprus/Australia)
Ear On Arm Suspension, 2015, 8’18’’

Stelarc, Ear On Arm Suspension (2015) Photograph by Polixeni Papapetrou

Ear On Arm Suspension is a performance in which Stelarc’s body is suspended above a 4m long sculpture. Sixteen fishing shark hooks are inserted along the back of his torso, arms and legs to equally distribute his body’s weight. As it was winched up, the body assumed its full weight, stretching its skin. Because of the braided steel cable untwisting as it assumed the full weight, it begins to untwist, and the body begins to spin, first one way and then the other. What was first imagined as a five minutes performance, ended up being of 15 minutes. The performance was about counterpoint in scale. A whole physical body suspended above a larger fragment of the body – the ear on an arm. The body becomes an object in a sculptural installation. The performance began when the body was hoisted off the sculpture and ended when the body touched down.

Stelarc (born 1946 in Limassol, Cyprus) is a seminal Australian-based performance artist, who has visually probed, acoustically amplified and suspended his body with hooks into his skin. He pioneered the frontiers of the human body, using his own as a medium and exhibition space— a body that “sometimes seems to include the possibility of terminality” (William Gibson). Artist, icon, a phenomenon, and honoured internationally as distinguished scholar and researcher, Stelarc continues to open up new scenarios on the understanding of the human body related to our time. He has performed with a Third Hand, an Extended Arm and with 6-legged walking robots. He is surgically constructing and stem-cell growing an ear on his arm. Working in the interface between the body and the machine, employing virtual reality, robotics, medical instruments, prosthetics, the Internet and biotechnology, Stelarc is among the most celebrated artist in the world working in the field of technology applied to visual arts.


VESTANDPAGE (Germany/Italy)
Can You Hear Me / I Am Just Going Outside (Extracts from the film sin∞fin), 2012, 4’32’’ / 2’37”

VestAndPage, sin∞fin – Performances at the Core of the Looking-Glass (2012) Still from the film

Can You Hear Me and I am Just Going Outside are two performances / extracts of the 2012 performance-based film sin∞fin – Performances at the Core of the Looking-Glass, produced by VestAndPage during a six weeks residency on the Antarctic continent. In Can You Hear Me the camera records Verena Stenke on an isolated glacier, screaming repeatedly “Can you hear me?” It is left to the viewer to envision to whom this question is directed, and whether or not there is an answer. I Am Just Going Outside sees Stenke repeatedly falling stiffly onto the ice, as conceptions of identity are exoriated in the existential encounter between the human body and the Great White.

Since over a decade, German artist Verena Stenke and Italian artist and writer Andrea Pagnes have been working together as VestAndPage. Exploring performance art as phenomena through their collaborative practice, theoretical artistic research and curatorial projects, their art is conceived psycho-geographically in response to social contexts, natural surroundings, historical sites and architectures. In an urgency to explore the physical, mental and spiritual bodies through the possibility of crossing the exterior-interior boundary, they interface with the ephemeral matter of art and existence. In a “Poetics of Relations” they encounter temporalities, memory strata, communication and fragility of the individual and the collective within social and environmental spheres. They apply the themes of trust in change, endurance, union, pain sublimation and risk-taking with a poetic bodily approach to art practice and a focus on universal human experiences. They are devoted to a poetic approach in experimental, personal filmmaking based on performance art, questioning the perception of reality, and how we process and store information.