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Ron Athey

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Ronnie Lee by Ron Athey, video still

Ron Athey is an American artist associated with body art and with extreme performance art. He has performed in the U.S. and internationally (especially in the UK and Europe). He has also, with Vaginal Davis, curated performance art festivals in the U.S. and in Europe.

As an artist, Athey uses his body to explore controversial subject matters such as the relationship between desire, sexuality, and self-mutilation. Much of his work uses the dynamics of S&M in order to confront pre-conceived ideas about masculinity and the body.

Athey's work is informed by his pentecostal background and frequently explores religious subjects - e.g. Athey concludes his 2005 operatic performance Judas Cradle (performed in collaboration with Juliana Snapper of the band Cypher in the Snow ) by speaking in tongues, his theatrical multi-media performance Joyce unpacks the feverish environment of his religious upbringing, and he has staged himself as a modern era St. Sebastian for the photographer Catherine Opie. Athey frequently engages with the ideas of queer philosophers and artists like Georges Bataille and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Athey's performance "Solar Anus" refers directly to one of Bataille's essays, and in 2002 Athey curated an endurance/performance festival inspired by Pasolini's films.

As a curator, Athey has brought together a diverse range of artists, including Bruce LaBruce, Ann Magnuson, Slava Mogutin, Udo Kier, Rick Owens, Ming Yuen S. Ma, Kira O'Reilly, Nicole Blackman, and Franko B.

Athey is a regular contributor to the L.A. Weekly newspaper, and occasionally teaches performance studies. He resides in Los Angeles.


Updated September 2007. For further information, visit Ron Athey's myspace page here.

Ronnie Lee by Ron Athey, video still