Preview of Ron Athey's Incorruptible Flesh: Messianic Remains
Celebrated body performance artist brings controversial show back to Glasgow
In the past 20 years, Ron Athey has become one of the most celebrated performance artists in the world. His provocative performances, which focus on his body and evoke, in their extremity, an almost medieval vision of ecstasy, question the place of the body in art and the meaning of pain. Having begun the Incorruptible Flesh series in Glasgow, Athey says 'coming back to Scotland is kind of the full cycle on this process. There have been four sections, different phases in different places.'
Athey's performances are not for the easily shocked: he acts on his body in violent ways and invites the audience into his space. The 2006 manifestation of Incorruptible Flesh was an extended session of participation. 'It is half a show like theatre,' he says. 'And the first half refers back to 2006 allowing the audience to touch me, but rather than a 6-hour duration of touching it is more like a 20-minute gangbang!'
For both artist and audience, Incorruptible Flesh is an intense experience, but Athey's references to earlier art makes it more than just a shocking display. And despite the ritualistic aspects, 'I say that I actually take it from an atheist's viewpoint and the need for ritual,' he observes. 'I don't practice anything but I look at everything.'
The Arches, Glasgow, Tue 11 & Wed 12 Nov.