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Exhibition at Leopold Museum provides insights into the past 40 years of Jan Fabre's performative work
Exhibition view, 2017 © Leopold Museum, Vienna, Photo: Lisa Rastl.

VIENNA.- The Belgian artist Jan Fabre (born in 1958) is among the most innovative and influential personalities of international contemporary art. Working as a visual artist, a theater maker and author, he has created a profoundly personal cosmos.

The presentation Stigmata – Actions & Performances 1976–2016, curated by the eminent Italian art historian Germano Celant, is on display for the first time in Vienna as part of the ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival. Presenting an exceptionally extensive body of work within a unique setting, the exhibition provides comprehensive insights into the past 40 years of Fabre’s performative work. Alongside Fabre’s early performances, including Money Performance (1979), IIad of the Bic Art, the Bic Art Room (1981) and Sanguis / Mantis (2001), as well as current works, such as An attempt to not break the world hour record set by Eddy Merckx in Mexico in 1972 (or how to remain a dwarf among giants) (2016), the exhibition features many further performances, some of which Fabre realized together with fellow artists (such as Marina Abramović, Ilya Kabakov), philosophers (such as Dietmar Kamper, Peter Sloterdijk) and eminent scientists (such as Edward O. Wilson, Giacomo Rizzolatti).

The exhibition architecture appears as a radical extension of Fabre’s installation Objects to break in and to fight (1978), which saw him present the utensils of the eponymous performance on his work desk (a glass plate on two wooden blocks). The labyrinth of tables featuring in the current exhibition showcases objects that conjure up memories of the artist’s performances from the late 1970s to the present in a variety of ways – either through costumes or other objects used by Fabre during his performances, through Thinking Models, e. g. drawings and photographs, or through films, video documentaries or quotes from Fabre’s notebook.

With Fabre’s latest theater work Belgian Rules / Belgium Rules premiering on 18th July as part of ImPulsTanz festival at the Vienna Volkstheater, the exhibition together with his new solo performance affords visitors the unique opportunity to explore the origins of Fabre’s performance art.

Born in 1958 in Antwerp, where he lives and works. Working as an artist, performer and theater maker, he is among the most innovative personalities of the contemporary art scene. An artist with a holistic approach, he has united the art of performance with theater. Particularly noteworthy are his hours­long performances This is theatre like it was to be expected and foreseen (1982) and The power of theatrical madness (1984) as well as the monumental performance Mount Olympus. To glorify the cult of tragedy, a 24-hour performance (2015). Solo exhibitions include Homo Faber (KMSKA, Antwerp, 2006), Hortus / Corpus (Kröller­Müller Museum, Otterlo, 2011) and Stigmata. Actions and Performances. 1976–2013 (MAXXI, Rome, 2013; MAC, Lyon, 2016, among other places). Fabre was the first living artist to present a comprehensive exhibition at the Louvre in Paris (L’ange de la metamorphose, 2008). As a side event at the 57th Biennial in Venice, Fabre presented works at the Abbazia di San Gregorio (Glass and Bone Sculptures 1977 – 2017).

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