Book Launch in Manchester

Join us for “Body Crossings”: an open discussion with Ron Athey and Jennifer Doyle about their work and latest publications – “Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performance of Ron Athey” and Doyle’s “Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art” – part of the 2013-2014 CIDRAL “Border Crossing” lecture series at the University of Manchester.

Copies of both books will be available for purchase/signing at the reception immediately following the event.


Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performance of Ron Athey

Ron Athey is a central figure in the development of performance art since the early 1990s, and this is the first book devoted to his practice. Pleading in the Blood foregrounds the prescience of Atheyʼs work, exploring how his visceral practice foresaw and precipitated the central place afforded sexuality, identity, and the body in art and critical theory in the late-twentieth century.

This landmark publication includes Atheyʼs own writings, and commissioned essays by maverick artists and leading academics. It showcases full-colour images of Atheyʼs art and performances since the early 1980s, including extensive documentation of solo performances and ensemble productions, and his photographic collaborations with other visual artists.

Pleading in the Blood includes three newly commissioned essays on different aspects of Atheyʼs work by Adrian Heathfield, Amelia Jones, and Dominic Johnson. These scholarly essays are complemented by shorter texts by Homi
K. Bhabha, Jennifer Doyle, Tim Etchells, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Matthew Goulish, Lydia Lunch, Juliana Snapper, Julie Tolentino, Alex Binnie, Catherine (Saalfield) Gund, Bruce LaBruce and Catherine Opie, along with a hand-written text from Robert Wilson. The book also includes Atheyʼs own writings, including new pieces and hard-to-find archival texts.

The publication is lavishly illustrated with full-colour images by photographers including Catherine Opie, Manuel Vason, Elyse Regher, Slava Mogutin, Dona Ann McAdams, Bruce LaBruce, Rick Castro, Sheree Rose, Edward Colver, Jennifer Precious Finch, and others. Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons) has written a foreword to the publication.


Hold it Against Me

In Hold It Against Me, Jennifer Doyle explores the relationship between difficulty and emotion in contemporary art, treating emotion as an artist’s medium. She encourages readers to examine the ways in which works of art challenge how we experience not only the artist’s feelings, but our own. Discussing performance art, painting, and photography, Doyle provides new perspectives on artists including Ron Athey, Aliza Shvarts, Thomas Eakins, James Luna, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz. Confronting the challenge of writing about difficult works of art, she shows how these artists work with feelings as a means to question our assumptions about identity, intimacy, and expression. They deploy the complexity of emotion to measure the weight of history, and to deepen our sense of where and how politics happens in contemporary art.

Doyle explores ideologies of emotion and how emotion circulates in and around art. Throughout, she gives readers welcoming points of entry into artworks that they may at first find off-putting or confrontational. Doyle offers new insight into how the discourse of controversy serves to shut down discussion about this side of contemporary art practice, and counters with a critical language that allows the reader to accept emotional intensity in order to learn from it.
Jennifer Doyle is Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire and co-editor of Pop Out: Queer Warhol, also published by Duke University Press.

Tuesday, 5 November, 17:15 – 19:00
Free Event – Open to the Public

John Casken Lecture Theatre, Martin Harris Bldg, University of Manchester

Wednesday, 6 November 2013, 16:30 – 18:30
Free Event – Open to the Public
Samuel Alexander LG12 (Leamington Theatre), University of Manchester
Following the previous evening’s book launch – as part of the Art Histories and Visual Studies visiting lecture series “Wounds and Utopia”, Ron Athey will discuss his life and performance art.This event is free and open to the public.