Surrey, England, 1933
Most, but not all, of Stuart Brisley’s performances have involved the presentation of his body. In many of his performance works since the late 1960s, the body endures difficult or extremely unpleasant conditions, or performs actions that sometimes involve extremes of endurance, to the point of exhaustion. Some of the performances have employed marking and painting, including painting his own body and using his own body as an instrument to make marks. Where objects feature, they have been furniture, things to make constructions, rubbish, waste, discarded things, organic matter that decays and facsimiles of shit. What does it mean to present a body? What is a ‘body’ such that it may be presented? How does the way Brisley presents his body relate to the body as it has been determined in
the West? Are there ways in which he displaces this selfunderstanding
of the body? How are these displacements related to ways in which the sense of the body has changed in modernity? When does the modernity of the body begin?
Today, Stuart Brisley’s archive is held by the Tate Archive, London. His work is in important collections, such as: Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, Kontakt/Erste Collection, Vienna, Austria, Musee D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris/ARC, France, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museum Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, Tate, London, The British Museum, London.
text by Michael Newman