Cyprus born 1946

  • Australia from 1950 Japan 1970-1998

Prepared tree suspension event for obsolete body number six, Black Mountain, Canberra 1982 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 60.6 h x 46.0 w cm sheet 69.8 h x 55.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1984
Accession No: NGA 84.443.3
Image rights: Courtesy the artist, Stelarc and Sherman Galleries, Sydney
  • Performance art flourished in the 1960s and 1970s as artists sought to redefine art as more than precious items in museums. Many performances involved the artists undergoing almost ritualistic self-scourging. Events can be staged in front of an audience or as a solitary production but, by its nature, performance art is temporal. Though often no more than a basic documentary device, photographs of performance art are all that remains of many events and can stand on their own as works of art in varying degrees. Jill Orr and Stelarc have worked with a number of photographers over the years.

    Stelarc (born Stelios Arcadiou) has consistently addressed issues of the body and technology. In the late 1960s, he made a suspension work in which he was hung in a harness, but in the mid-1970s he achieved his suspension works by means of fine meat hooks inserted through his body. The event shown here took place on the 10 October 1982 in Canberra. Stelarc has suspended himself in around 25 performance pieces between 1976 and 1992 in a myriad of locations – over the ocean, in warehouses, between two buildings in New York. They are explorations into determining the limits of the body in relation to forces of nature, particularly the law of gravity. Stelarc has gone on to develop advanced prosthetic devices, such as a robotic third arm, by which he extends his actions as an artist.

    Anne O’Hehir

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002