Performance Art

The Aquamen

The Aquamen are part of Machtiern, a French theater company. They wander around in public wearing fishbowl helmets, with live fish swimming around inside the helmets.

Details from the Telegraph:

In their "bubbles", the artists pose "fundamental questions about our ability to enter into contact with others when barriers are erected".

But wearing a fishbowl is not for the faint-hearted, Mr Manini told the Telegraph.

"It's a bit like wearing a reverse diving bell," he said, adding that it took years to perfect to avoid leaks around the neck with each bowl and suit moulded to the individual performer.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 08, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Performance Art, Fish, Headgear

The Pain Performances of Gina Pane

French artist Gina Pane conducted "pain performances" that involved (as wikipedia puts it) "extreme self-inflicted injury." Some info from an article by Pawel Leszkowicz:

Gina Pane. Today many pronounce her name Gina Pain, turning the Italian word for bread into the English word for suffering. Pane, the queen of European body art, has been having something of a renaissance in the early 21st century art world, in the era of virtual bodies. Her art actions of the late 1970s featured constant demonstrations of pain. Called "that crazy lady with the razor blade" by some ironists, she cut the skin of her palms, hands, back, belly, mouth, tongue, and cheeks.

Some of her pain performances:

Non-Anaethestized Climb (1971): Barefoot, she climbed up and down a ladder-like structure whose rungs were studded with sharp metallic shards. She did this until she was bleeding profusely.

Food/TV News/Fire (1971): While watching news footage of the Vietnam War, with a bright light shining in her eyes, she ate raw ground beef, and later threw it up.

Sentimental Action (1973): Dressed in white, she entered the gallery with a bouquet of roses, removed the thorns from them, and pierced her arm with the thorns. She then began cutting herself with a razor blade, allowing the blood to drip onto the roses.

Conditioning (1973): She lay on a metal bedframe position over two rows of burning candles. She later confessed that the pain started right away and was difficult to master. The audience could see the pain she was in by the intense wringing of her hands.

More info: art moderne

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 07, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Performance Art, 1970s, Pain, Self-inflicted and Otherwise

The Automatic Human Jukebox

For many years, beginning around 1972, Grimes Poznikov entertained crowds at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf by transforming himself into the "Automatic Human Jukebox."

source: wikipedia

Some details about him from a 1975 syndicated article by reporter Philip Hager (The Spokane Spokesman-Review - Sep 14, 1975):

Grimes Poznikov is the Automatic Human Jukebox — a statement that somehow renders anything that follows it anticlimatic.

For three years, he has been delighting the throngs of visitors to Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiardelli Square, popping out of a box the size of a telephone booth to offer such selections as "Sentimental Journey," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and, inevitably, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

But even as a minor institution in a city with a deserved reputation for unorthodoxy, Grimes Poznikov, the Automatic Human Jukebox, has found himself facing an unceremonious eviction from the streets of San Francisco.

Poznikov's problem is that he has been cited for occupying a public street without a permit, a charge he intends to fight before a jury.

In recent weeks, seeking that elusive permit, he has been turned down by the city's Public Works Department, the Recreation and Parks Department, the Art Commission and, finally, the Board of Permit Appeals.

As a streetcorner jukebox, he doesn't fit into a tidy official category.

"I'm in a gray area, somewhere between a musician and a street artist," he explained. "The Public Works Department pointed out that under their rules I wasn't a building either."

The concept of the Automatic Human Jukebox occurred to him in the early '70s when he read of a poll listing "jukeboxes" as one of the things Europeans liked most about America.

During the height of the tourist season, Poznikov almost every day erects his seven-foot-high jukebox on the corner of Beach and Larkin, using a wire cord to anchor the structure to a nearby maple tree.

Passersby are invited to make a selection from a list of tunes Poznikov has mastered and drop in a coin. ("AHJ practices no economic discrimination," a sign announces. "However, quality... will vary automatically with the quantity of coins inserted.")

Few of them realize it, but Poznikov has been peering right back at the crowds who peer in at him. He occasionally takes their photographs and, as a student of psychology, he has written a scholarly paper entitled "Deinstitutionalization of Psychotherapy Through Mass Psychotherepeutic Implementation — Automatic Human Jukebox, a Case in Point."

In his paper Poznikov has recorded his observations of his customers during what he calls three years worth of "ongoing demonstration of mass psychotherepeutic implementation," noting such details as "... a five to 35 second raucous laughter follows most AJH actuations."

Passersby, he has written, first refer to the jukebox in "non-personified pronoun terms" ("it") then, upon his emergence horn in hand, they speak of it as a "living component" ("he").

Poznikov regards the Automatic Human Jukebox as an experimental art form, patiently explaining to a puzzled questioner, "I want to legitimize and advance the system of non-verbal communication... the people who come here can interact with the jukebox, participate in the process of making music."

According to wikipedia, he ended up dying homeless on the streets in 2005. His life inspired a short opera titled Broken Jukebox which premiered in Jan 2008 at College of Marin.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 21, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Outsiders, Marginals, the Excluded and Low-castes, Music, Performance Art, 1970s

Yoko Ono, “Cut Piece”

To accompany Alex's Patty Chang post from yesterday.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 21, 2021 - Comments ()
Category: Fashion, Performance Art, 1960s

The art of Patty Chang

A few highlights from Patty Chang's career as a performance artist:

  • Eating raw onions with her parents
  • Having an eel crawl inside her shirt
  • Cutting through her bra (stuffed with melons) while ritualistically discussing her aunt's death
  • shaving her pubic hair with seltzer water
  • creating urinary devices with plastic bottles while traveling across an aqueduct in China
  • having women pump their breast milk while reading lists of worries submitted by anonymous people in Hong Kong and the U.S.

It seems that Chang is deliberately trying to be weird. She says, "Humor is a strategy that makes people aware and also uncomfortable... There are a lot of strange things that we don’t pay attention to, but I try to extract them."

More info: artnet

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 20, 2021 - Comments ()
Category: Performance Art

Lys Chelys, French Female Fakir

Modern performers like David Blaine, who entomb themselves in glass boxes, are carrying on an old tradition, as seen below in the first video with Lys Chelys.

The still photo shows her exiting her "sarcophage" after 57 days without eating.

After her items, we have a full movie utilizing the same theme.

Photo source.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Mar 05, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Food, Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand, Performance Art, 1950s, Europe, United Kingdom

Finding a needle in a haystack

ARTnews reports that the artist Sven Sachsalber recently died at the young age of 33. Sachsalber's most famous work, which Chuck posted about in 2014, was when he spent two days searching for, and eventually finding, a needle hidden in a haystack.

Some of Sachsalber's other works (or 'performances') included:

  • Completing, with his father, a 13,200-piece puzzle of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam
  • Eating a poisonous mushroom
  • Spending 24 hours in a room with a cow

For whatever it's worth, Sachsalber wasn't the first person to try and find a needle in a haystack. Legendary publicist Jim Moran did the exact same stunt back in 1939.

Popular Science - July 1939
Note: despite what the caption says, Moran did find the needle.
He then sent it to the Smithsonian.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 22, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Publicity Stunts, Homages, Pastiches, Tributes and Borrowings, Performance Art, Obituaries

The Rain

The film shows Marcel Broodthaers trying to write while the rain constantly washes away the ink. In the final scene, during which the artist gives up and drops his pen, the inscription “Projet pour un texte” (Project for a text) appears.

Is that actually rain, or is someone spraying him with a hose?

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 21, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Performance Art, Absurdism and Dadaism, Writers, 1960s

An Intentional Cannibal

There's an old urban legend, which folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand refers to as 'The Accidental Cannibals,' about people who accidentally eat the cremated remains of a loved one:

the story circulated about how postwar food packages from the United States led to a gruesome confusion. When one package arrived containing an unlabeled dark powder, people assumed it was some kind of instant soup or drink, or perhaps a condiment. Only after most of the powder had been consumed did a letter from the United States arrive explaining that the powder was the ashes of their emigrant grandmother who had died during the war and who wanted her remains returned to Romanian soil...

A recent version of the legend describes the cremains of a relative shipped home from Australia to England and mixed there into the Christmas pudding. Half the pudding has been consumed by the time the letter of explanation anives.

In a case of urban-legend-becomes-real-life, performance artist Eva Margarita has announced that she'll be mixing the cremated remains of her father into three different entrees and then eating them. She'll be doing this "to not only honor his spirit but to show how communities pass on knowledge through a practice in eating and conjuring with one another."

Her performance will be broadcast live on the Internet. It's happening today (Sep 23, 2020), from 8 AM to 8 PM (eastern time).

In an interview on, Margarita offers some details about how she'll prepare her father's cremains:

I'm taking just the bone pieces. I'm grinding them down in a molcajete, or a mortar and pestle, and then I'm adding them into the food. I'm grinding them down in a metaphorical sense to help grind down the body and flesh, but also it's almost to subvert the grinding that we do in real life, and all the beating that we've taken throughout, but now it's done out of love.

Thanks to Gerald Sacks!

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 23, 2020 - Comments ()
Category: Cannibalism, Food, Performance Art

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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