Tate Modern Film

Pleading in the Blood: the Art and Performances of Ron Athey

Ron Athey is a central figure in the development of live art. From his earliest performances in 1981, to his influential and often bloody works of the mid-1990s, to more recent works, Athey’s visceral practice has both foreseen and precipitated the central place afforded sexuality, identity, and the body within visual art and critical thought.

This event marks the publication of the much anticipated first book devoted to his practice, Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey, edited by Dominic Johnson. The evening will include presentations from Athey and Johnson; screenings of short videos by Athey; readings from Pleading in the Blood; and a discussion with special guest, the filmmaker Bruce LaBruce. The event will include rare screenings of Solar Anus, 1998, Ronnie Lee, 2002 and Vena Mae, 2002.

Ron Athey was born in Groton, Connecticut. Raised in a Pentecostal household in the Inland Empire, the young Ronnie Lee was sainted as a prophet messiah who proselytised in tongues, and whose tears were coveted by the entire congregation. He began performing at underground galleries with Rozz Williams in 1981 in a collaboration known as Premature Ejaculation. From 1992 to 1995, he developed his ‘torture’ trilogy:  Martyrs & Saints, 4 Scenes in A Harsh Life, and Deliverance. He has since presented major solo, ensemble, and collaborative works internationally. Recent works include Judas Cradle (2005), and the Incorruptible Flesh series (1997-present).

Dominic Johnson is the author of Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture (2012) and Theatre & the Visual (2012). He is the editor of four books, including most recently Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey (2013) and Critical Live Art: Contemporary Histories of Performance (2013). He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of English and Drama, at Queen Mary, University of London.

Bruce LaBruce is a filmmaker, writer, director, and photographer. He has directed and starred in three feature length movies: No Skin Off My Ass (1991), Super 8½ (1994), and Hustler White (1996). He is the director of many films including: Skin Flick/Skin Gang (2000), The Raspberry Reich/The Revolution Is My Boyfriend (2004); Otto; Or, Up With Dead People (2008); L.A. Zombie (2010), and Gerontophilia (2013). He lives in Toronto, Canada.

The new publication will be available following this event:
Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey, edited by Dominic Johnson. Co-published by Intellect Books & Live Art Development Agency for Intellect Live, 2013. 

Presented in collaboration with Live Art Development Agency, London.

Please note: this event includes adult content, and viewer discretion is advised.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

21 September 2013 at 19.00–21.00