Tue 11 - Wed 12 Nov 2014 | 7.30pm | £15 / £10 | 18+
Dressed in vestmental finery, a funeral processions draws its pulse from Genet‘s Lady of the Flowers and Athey arises from the viewing into a walking meditation….
The fourth installation in the Incorruptible Flesh series, Messianic Remains is a solo performance commissioned by Performance Studies International, debuted at Stanford University in June 2013. Returning to the laid-in-state sexualized corpse scene presented as a static image in [Dissociative Sparkle], the messianic impulse/prophecy is activated. As in earlier works in the series, Athey rides the grandiose myth of enlightenment that only the face of death may reveal.
The concept of the Incorruptible Flesh series took form a year before the three-therapy HIV drug treatment would give hope by halting the numbers of AIDS deaths. In a research residence at the CCA Glasgow in February 1996, Athey and collaborator, Lawrence Steger studied the lives of saints, the relics and in particular, the display of the ‘incorruptible’ bodies, most of which are wax sculptures with a corpse inside. Applying the status of ‘incorruptible’ upon their own dying HIV+ bodies, Athey and Steger wove solo actions into interactions – including The Trojan Whore which Athey performed at the memorials for Leigh Bowery in 1998. The final action in the piece contained the image of the living corpse on display: Athey laid out on a simple plank, tended to by Steger (whose monstrous special effects makeup suggested decomposing). The live AIDS body, on-display, anointed (greased) and bathed in golden light marked the glorification of what- in future performances- [Dissociative Sparkle] and Perpetual Wound- became the more estoteric post-AIDS body. Lawrence Steger died in February 1999.
[Dissociative Sparkle] was performed in February 2006, exactly 10 years later, for the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow and was later repeated at Artists Space in NYC . Here, Athey presented his first durational piece – a 6-hour solo performance. Honouring the anniversary of his collaboration with/and the loss of Steger, Athey used the static, martyred image of his body, suffering on a rack. The audience took the role of Steger, anointing Athey’s body in grease. As in The Trojan Whore, the body was enhanced; tortured, but not vulnerable. Invaded by hooks, bat and rack, his skin was bronzed and shining, genitals inflated to grotesque size with medical saline.
For Perpetual Wound, 2007, Athey worked in collaboration with a younger artist, Dominic Johnson, and focused on this trans-generational relationship mythologically, characterizing Sophocles’ pairing of Philoctetes and Neoptolemus. Philoctetes (Athey), in exile for possessing a stinking weeping wound that would not heal, was seduced by Neoptolemus (Johnson) into returning to battle and directions to receive healing. This reality comes to fruition during the start of a dance, wherein a sheet of glass on a stand is used as a prophylaxis, protecting the younger man from the shared wound.
Photography by Manuel Vason.
Please note: This performance contains live body modification.
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“Where can you see tomorrow’s work today? The answer is The Arches.”
Producing and presenting risk-taking work from local and international artists and companies, the building has boasted performances over the past two years from Derevo, The TEAM and Taylor Mac, hosted the National Review of Live Art and New Territories festivals and seen blistering performances from boundary-pushing artists and companies such as John Moran, Adrian Howells, Ontroerend Goed and Quarantine as part of 2010’s BEHAVIOUR festival, our annual celebration of the live experience.
The Arches is also Scotland’s leading provider of support for emergent artists and performance practitioners, providing a year-long programme of opportunities including Artist in Residence programmes and our two annual awards, Platform 18: New Directions and the Brick Award, as well as showcasing raw work from homegrown talent such as Nic Green and Rob Drummond in Arches LIVE, our annual festival of brave new work.
Our dedicated Creative Learning programme offers even further-reaching opportunities for development across a broad range of social groups, with events ranging from urban music production course Tigerstyle and the newly launched Arches Community Choir, to mentoring schemes, professional development projects and off-site performance work with diverse social groups.
Words from Jackie Wylie, The Arches’ Artistic Director, following the tragic death of Adrian Howells:
“All at The Arches are devastated by the loss of Adrian Howells this week. He was our Artist in Residence and The Arches was his creative home. But more than that, he was a dear friend and companion in life to many of us here.
So many would say that there truly was no one like him, who personified love, generosity and the deepest type of empathy and desire to understand those lucky enough to have met him. With great humour he was able to create an instant connection with anyone he encountered. He was able to translate this desire to nurture and connect into his performance practice and in doing so leaves behind not only an incredible and influential body of work but a multitude of audience members across the world who have in some way been transformed by these encounters.
He supported, encouraged and was at the heart of an entire community of artists in Glasgow who will miss him terribly.”