Tate Britain Talk

Unlimited Action: The Kipper Kids

The Kipper Kids, untitled performance, Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles, 1978. Photograph by Dorothy L. Hailey © The Kipper Kids. Courtesy of Martin Von Haselberg

Discover and celebrate the influential work of the Kipper Kids

From the 1970s, the Kipper Kids (Harry Kipper and Harry Kipper, aka Martin Von Haselberg and the late Brian Routh) became legendary. Their dangerous, excessive and funny performance art actions were prolific in the 1970's in the UK, Europe and LA. They performed sporadically from the mid 1980's and their last public performance was in 2003. Their transgressive aesthetic influenced peers such as Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley. Routh died in August 2018.

Dominic Johnson joins Martin Von Haselberg and frequent Kipper collaborator Anne Bean to celebrate the The Kipper Kids. The event will include rare screenings, including Up Yer Bum With a Bengal Lancer (1976), and a recording of The Kipper Kids’ final performance at the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow in 2003. The event will include conversation and action.

This event will launch Johnson's new book, Unlimited Action: The Performance of Extremity in the 1970s. The book explores the limits imposed upon art and life, and the means by which artists have exposed or refused this by way of performance. It examines the 'performance of extremity' as practices at the limits of the histories of performance and art, in its most prescient decade, the 1970s. Dominic Johnson recounts and analyses game-changing performance events by six artists: Kerry Trengove, Ulay, Genesis P-Orridge and COUM Transmissions, Anne Bean, the Kipper Kids and Stephen Cripps.


Dominic Johnson is a Reader in Performance and Visual Culture at Queen Mary University of London. His authored books include The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art (2015), and his edited books include Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey (2013).

Tate Britain

The Clore Auditorium

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

7 February 2019 at 18.30–20.00