I chose this as it is a personal narrative with a perspective. Quite a few of my selections are artists monographs, sometimes self penned. It is so valuable to hear how artists talk about their own practice. It is also a tribute to both Lois and Catherine, who, back in the day fought all sort of bigotry and prejudice to make sure that his work was staged in the UK. Athey´s practice emerged at the height of the AIDS pandemic, and Ron´s performances happened both in institutions and clubs. It is art that is queer, bloody, edgy, told in Mr Athey´s own words. See also: Visions of Excess.
Live Art in The UK:
This book shows the challenges and impact of the vibrant UK scene. It is in my list, as not everyone is aware of the history or even the artists originating from the UK. A great overview, offering an insight into the type of infrastructure that supports artists, as well as case studies featuring some of the UK innovators and practitioners of Live Art.
Acts of Transgression:
A good read for anyone exploring Live Art outside of Europe: Live Art in South Africa … and there are 15 voices featured. They investigate themes such as “social and political turbulence” in the post-apartheid country. Seems super relevant - creation and Live Art emerging from Africa.
This is Performance Art:
On the cusp of Live Art, theatre and popular culture, it is a catalogue of Mel Brimfield's work. She shows how engaging work can emerge from collaboration, with dancers, with costumes. It also features how she developed her piece about Joan Littlewood at Stratford station. For many years, I worked with “Art on the Underground” and this was a performative project that happened as part of that programme.
"I produced a very bizarre body of work” says Ulay. I’m always fascinated by people that are innovators or trail blazers, and there is little work featuring the artists voice from the early period of live art, when there was a lot of crazy shit going on. I am always a fan of the secondary performer, the support actor, and I guess in his later life that is what he became. But like a good movie, when even the smallest roles are brilliantly acted, Ulay was no lightweight.
A Guide to Being an Artist and Being OK:
This zine is a budget price, and a great gift for all the depressed or low artists that have lived through 2020. It has been terrible year for people, with the cultural sector being hit particularly hard. And maintaining any sort of well being should be paramount for anyone - and here is a tool. A creation in itself, not glib like those self help books at points of sale, it offers a deeper insight and artists´ interpretation of depression and anxiety.
Narratives in Black British Dance:
Any book that offers an insight in what it is to be a black artist is going to interest me. I’m aware that so many stories are lost already, so any thorough investigation of aesthetics and talent is bound to offer a fresh insight into creative practices.
I am currently working on new work collaborating with a number of Chinese artists. It is so refreshing to meet people who are creative and produce in a completely different structure, whilst retaining their subvserion and critical viewpoints. This book, itself an artwork, interrogates the production of Live Art in China- with all of its extremities, from epic scale pieces, to work with human remains. It’s like a discovery of a parallel universe.
Gothic Queer Culture:
I guess I’ve always thought that my queer experience was a bit goth… so pleased to see it in a book. The darker side of queer culture explored, and how sub sets within sub sets end up being something obscure, dark and dirty. I am very happy to be part of that.
-- Keith Khan
Keith Khan works with performance, film, drawing and textiles. Born in London, of Indo-Caribbean heritage, he interrogates the layers of inherited ethnic and cultural identities and the contemporary phenomenon of cultural confusion.
'Z', Keith Khan, 2019.