Top Pick by Thomas John Bacon, Artistic Director Tempting Failure 2016

Tempting Failure have created a collection for Unbound. The collection contains publications written by/featuring artists who are in their 2016 programme. Additionally they chose 4 of their favourite publications. Thomas John Bacon, Artistic Director of Tempting Failure describes his choice.

The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art 
Dominic Johnson


Performance Art is somewhat ethereal when we attempt to ascribe it to anything other than the live moment.  What may often be lost in academic studies is what makes it in/tangible, tenuous, testing and often thought provoking in a way that defies attempts to describe or document it. The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art, was released only recently and towards the end of my own doctoral studies in the phenomenology of performance art.  It therefore was perhaps a little too late to be fully incorporated in my own research but what it does is something unique in capturing the phenomena of ‘life art’, as Anne Bean would call it, through twelve oral accounts.  

Here Johnson interviews a range of wonderful artists, giving us access to their personal perspectives, philosophies and preoccupations with a tenderness that allows each to express quite rare insights into the nature of their practices and the lives behind.  Of particular wonder is the interview with BREYER PORRIDGE entitled Positive Surrender, that I first read in Johnson’s Contemporary Histories of Performance in the UK and is reproduced here.  It offers a raw and honest account of love and identity like no other and I defy anyone not be moved when reading it. This is one of my favourite books published by Johnson and I hope we are lucky enough to have further volumes in this same series in the future.

Buy The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art

See the Tempting Failure Unbound Collection