April 20, 2007

Ron Athey and Dominic Johnson bare bleeding

In a collaborative performance, Ron Athey and Dominic Johnson explore Self-Obliteration, Inner Pigginess, and Mystical Grandiosity. Starting with a palate of ideas about sex, death and sparkle, the myth of Philoctetes is transplanted into the California deserts in the heat of August, creating rituals of transubstantiation in magickal excess.

Ron Athey and Lawrence Steger began researching the collaborative performance, Incorruptible Flesh, in 1996. Like wax dummy saints blessed with the miracle of inviolate bodies, there was much injecting and powdering to be done to fight off corrosion. The morbidity was driven by the shared, long-term HIV+ status of Athey and Steger--healthy and sick, respectively. In 2006, Steger now dead, Athey and Johnson continue the collaborative process, based around the myth of the perpetual wound.

Death Valley, population 9. Endurance and delirium at 56.7 degrees celsius, making salt flats into variations on creeping hope. Parched skins threatening to match the shattered surface. Destituted, then blowing away. The body's drip system would melt a hole through the salt floor, worn out bodies peering into the grave, to listen. Once, less mindful of the harsher realities of things, there was only sex, and love, and bright lights. Now not to be consoled, two bodies at other ends of the earth are moving together, in times for which there is no sun.

Oracles never speak: only echoes of messages, too vague to discern. The flesh is quickening with love's neglected waters. Against rigid landscapes, the pains we carry tighten into brilliance.

Ron Athey began performing in galleries with Rozz Williams in 1981. From 1992, he toured his Torture Trilogy, of which Martyrs & Saints, 4 Scenes in a Harsh Life, and Deliverance all toured internationally. Since 1998, he has also toured The Solar Anus, a solo performance based on the Surrealist autoportraiture of Pierre Molinier and the writings of Georges Bataille, which was most recently performed at the Hayward Gallery, London. He recently toured The Judas Cradle, an operatic duo-drama with the soprano Juliana Snapper, which was presented throughout the UK, as well as at RedCat in Los Angeles and Performa 05 in New York. Athey also works in visual art and journalism, and is writing a book on his Pentecostal upbringing, entitled Gifts of the Spirit. www.ronathey.com

Dominic Johnson has presented performance work in the UK at Sensitive Skin and National Review of Live Art, as well as in Croatia, Slovenia and the US. He has carried out performance and writing collaborations with Kris Canavan, Franko B and Ron Athey. He is the editor of Franko B: Blinded by Love (2006), and Manuel Vason's Encounters: Performance, Photography, Collaboration (2007), and has published writings in Chris Kraus's L.A. Art Land (2005), Women and Performance (2006), Slava Mogutin’s Lost Boys (2006), Frieze, Dance Theatre Journal, and elsewhere. He is a Lecturer in the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary, University of London.

Part of Sacred: A Season of New Live Art.
24-27 April and 1-2 May 2007.
8pm. Tickets £12 (£8).

For more information, and to book tickets, visit: www.chelseatheatre.org.uk/ron.htm

Chelsea Theatre, World's End Place, King's Road, London SW10 0DR. TEL: 0207 7352 1967
For information on how to get to the theatre, visit:

Incorruptible Flesh will also be presented at Fierce Festival in Birmingham, on 30th May. See http://www.fiercetv.co.uk/index.php?controller=event&mm_action=view&id=122

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