This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. Please remove or replace such wording and instead of making proclamations about a subject's importance, use facts and attribution to demonstrate that importance.(November 2011)
If you have just labeled this page as a potential copyright issue, please follow the instructions for filing at the bottom of the box.
The previous content of this page or section has been identified as posing a potential copyright issue, as a copy or modification of the text from the source(s) below, and is now listed on Wikipedia:Copyright problems (listing):
Unless the copyright status of the text on this page is clarified, the problematic text or the entire page may be deleted one week after the time of its listing.
Temporarily, the original posting is still accessible for viewing in the page history.
To confirm your permission, you can either display a notice to this effect at the site of original publication or send an e-mail from an address associated with the original publication to permissions-en at wikimedia dot org or a postal letter to the Wikimedia Foundation. These messages must explicitly permit use under CC-BY-SA and the GFDL. See Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials.
Note that articles on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view and must be verifiable in published third-party sources; consider whether, copyright issues aside, your text is appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia.
To demonstrate that this text is in the public domain, or is already under a license suitable for Wikipedia, click "Show".
Simply modifying copyrighted text is not sufficient to avoid copyright infringement—if the original copyright violation cannot be cleanly removed or the article reverted to a prior version, it is best to write the article from scratch. (See Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing.)
For license compliance, any content used from the original article must be properly attributed; if you use content from the original, please leave a note at the top of your rewrite saying as much. You may duplicate non-infringing text that you had contributed yourself.
It is always a good idea, if rewriting, to identify the point where the copyrighted content was imported to Wikipedia and to check to make sure that the contributor did not add content imported from other sources. When closing investigations, clerks and administrators may find other copyright problems than the one identified. If this material is in the proposed rewrite and cannot be easily removed, the rewrite may not be usable.
He has been singularly consistent throughout a career spanning 60 years in his involvement with political and social issues (he was a founding member of the Artists Union) and a desire to challenge the established cultural expectations has been embedded in his subject matter. He is a republican and throughout his career has made works which question the British class system. Brisley has come to the conclusion, as stated in his recent novel "Beyond Reason: Ordure" (2003) that 'what goes down comes up'.
Although often hailed as the 'godfather of British performance art', Brisley is a more complex figure, Emeritus professor at the Slade and enfant terrible of the art world since the 1960s, whose seminal practice extends to painting, sculpture, community projects, pseudo-curatorial installations, sound, video, films and teaching. Uniting all these working methods is a concern for the everyday and for things that have fallen down (detritus on the streets, human excrement) and the marginalised (miners, bin men, homeless).
‘All work’ Brisley comments, ‘needs content. Without content there is no work’. His probing subjects and continuous engagement with the dispossessed, the vernacular and the absurd, together with the examination of landscape through a political prism has been compared to Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter.
In 1968, Brisley helped lead the Hornsey Sit-in, in protest of teaching practices common at British art schools. This protest enhanced his reputation for challenging norms, and his appointment to the faculty as a student advisor/tutor and later as professor of Media Fine Art Graduate Studies at the Slade School of Fine Art, part of the University College London, was and remains unique in that he was the only staff member to be directly appointed by the student body.
As Richard Gott wrote in the introduction to the catalogue for Brisley's exhibition Black at the South London Gallery in 1996, 'Homage to Brisley's performances and installations and references to his work, can be found in many unexpected places and in the work of other artists'.
His work examines the actuality and context of art within Western capitalism. At the centre of this diverse practice lies his exploration of the essential qualities of what it means to be human. He has challenged the human body in physical, psychological and emotional ways. Vulnerable, exposed, Brisley's 'body in struggle' dramatized the conflict between human autonomy and the instrumental forces of bureaucratic and state power.
Influenced by Marxist counter-cultural politics in the 1960s, he adopted performance as the democratic basis for a new relationship between artist and audience. Brisley first achieved notoriety in the 1960s and '70s and is perhaps best known for his disturbing physical performances.
Brisley’s iconic performance And For Today, Nothing, made at the Gallery House, London in 1972 in which Brisley lay for two hours at a time in a bathtub of putrefied matter over a 10 day period alongside the film work Arbeit Macht Frei, 1972, induce notions of human waste of an entirely different order. Equally present in these works is Brisley’s clear evocation of Jacques-Louis David’s iconic La Mort de Marat, 1793 – a painting described by T. J. Clark as the first modernist painting, for "the way it took the stuff of politics as its material, and did not transmute it".
'Recently Brisley, in a series of performances and an extended text, has concerned himself with ordure and its collection by a character named Rosse Yael Sirb, a character he – the artist narrator – claims to have first met while he was a corporal in charge of stores during national service in West Germany', Sirb is contrasted by another figure, Bertrand Vollieme, collector of junk and detritus.'
In his performance work, Brisley engages the audience and establishes a dialogue of action and reaction that induces a release from conventions of normative social behaviour. He has also examined the body politic and images of power; his paintings, prints and sculpture have expressed a literary and symbolic approach to power as represented in the media.
Brisley’s engagement with the Revolutionary moment has resurfaced throughout his career. This has often been channeled through the French Republican Calendar implemented between 1793 and 1805, devised in an attempt to eradicate all religious and royalist influences from daily life. The move to decimalization and the 10 day week has itself provided a consistent structure for many of Brisley’s durational works up to and including his most recent Next Door (The Missing Subject), 2010 made over a 10 day period in London and later presented as a film.
Recent works also include Brisley’s disarmingly sober watercolour landscapes from a series entitled Jerusalem, a fitting reference to William Blake’s lauded poem and substitute national anthem in which trees and foliage seem to sprout and grow from amidst the rubble.
His critical motivations remain unchanged: the production of a political art that in its richness of metaphor and range of expressive resources is capable of capturing the 'morbid symptoms' of capitalist culture.
This double issue of Audio Arts is based on nine hours of recording made in four sessions during February and March 1981. Although discussion is centred on eleven works carried out since 1972, Brisley talks extensively about his attitudes and concerns as an artist and of the issues surrounding live work. This issue was published to coincide with Brisley’s retrospective exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in May 1981.
'It wasn't a protest against bureaucracy as such, it was really much more a protest against conspicuous individualism, which is another kind of conformity, much more difficult to combat, and totalitarian in its effect. I thought of the use of my own body as being like a figure, a human figure, but not necessarily a specific person. The camera can stand for the audience; the presence of the camera is quite important. Sometimes it becomes more important than a person because it represents a certain sort of future.
'The individual, in relation to groups of people or groupings and also in relation to social division, is what I am very conscious of in all that I do, whether it be as an artist working in an institution like the Hayward Gallery or in the street or in education. It seems to be that in any kind of social circumstance one bumps into in Britain, one bumps into that social hierarchy and therefore it becomes the theme of my work. All the time there's been a desire, an inarticulate desire, to find sources which are not the result of the imperialism coming from either America or more recently Germany, and sources that aren't located up on the 'high cultural area'.
'It is difficult to do a work which isn't in some way reliant on the past. The problem of history was my recognition that in any new work one starts from a known position even though one has aspirations of doing a new work. It is inevitable that it is rooted in the past. I don't expect the future history of where we are at the moment to include activities that I personally feel committed to or understand – those more lively, more exploratory activities – they are the ones that aren't going to be celebrated.
'At one stage I was thinking of my works as propositions – I did not see them as being failures or successes – always dealing essentially with the same central issue, which was the relationship between myself and others in the audience and the problem of class structures, inequality, and so on.
'When I started 'live work' it was very much to do with dispensing with 'middle men', to work directly with a group of people, dealing with notions of equality for myself as much as anybody else. The only way that one can actually have any social function – maybe not even as an artist, but as someone operating within culture – is in fact to think in other cultural terms.
'I would like to be in a position where I could actually move beyond, or get to a point where I wasn't actually making performances. It's just a recognition that performance has, as anything does, its limitations. It is very curious to look at the kind of imperialist cultural actions that are going on and have gone on, like the American 'invasion' from 1956 onwards, and the German 'invasion' from 1970 onwards. We are colonised to a large extent in the cultural field by those cultural activities which stem from countries with great political and economic power in the capitalist sense. The very notion of art, it seems to me, has an aspect of alienation about it.'