Queer Communion (Book)
Ron Athey is one of the most important, prolific and influential performance artists of the past four decades. Queer Communion, an exploration of Athey’s career, refuses the linear narratives of art discourse and instead pays homage to the intensities of each mode of Athey’s performative practice and each community he engages.
Ron Athey is one of the most important, prolific and influential performance artists of the past four decades. A singular example of lived creativity, his radical performances are at odds with the art worlds and art marketplaces that have increasingly dominated contemporary art and performance art over the period of his career.
Queer Communion, an exploration of Athey’s career, refuses the linear narratives of art discourse and instead pays homage to the intensities of each mode of Athey’s performative practice and each community he engages. Emphasizing the ephemeral and largely uncollectible nature of his work, the book places Athey’s own writing at its centre, turning to memoir, memory recall and other modes of retrieval and narration to archive his performances.
In addition to documenting Athey’s art, ephemera, notes and drawings, the volume features commissioned essays, concise 'object lessons' on individual objects in the Athey archive, and short testimonials by friends and collaborators including Dominic Johnson, Amber Musser, Julie Tolentino, Ming Ma, David Getsy, Alpesh Patel and Zackary Drucker, among others. Together they form Queer Communion, a counter history of contemporary art.
Amelia Jones is an art historian and art theorist, art critic, author, professor and curator. With Intellect, she previously published Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History (2012), co-edited with Adrian Heathfield.
Andy Campbell is an art historian, curator, lecturer and art critic who has worked with leading higher education institutions and museums.
Acknowledgments – Amelia Jones and Andy Campbell
Prelude – Amelia Jones and Andy Campbell
Introduction: Queer Communion and the Worlds of Ron Athey – Amelia Jones
Writing Athey – Amelia Jones
Previously Published – Unless otherwise noted, text entirely by Ron Athey
Unpublished – From the Ron Athey archive
The Alchemist: Ron Athey – Lisa Teasley
Anatomy of a Revival – Karen Gonzalez Rice
The Right to Bleed in Public: On Premature Ejaculation – Leon J. Hilton
“A Poetry of Meaningful Experience”: Miss Velma Jaggers’s Stagecraft, Fisting, and Ron Athey’s Miraculous Acts – Andy Campbell
Ron Athey Rolls Deep – Lisa Newman
The Beauty of the Dork – Vaginal Davis and Ron Athey, reprint from LA Weekly
big brother/big sister – Cesar Padilla
AIDS, Athey, and Culture War – Jonathan D. Katz
An Unruly Archive By Each of Us Towards Each of Us… – Julie Tolentino
Father Daughter Love – Zackary Drucker
Athey-ism – Bruce LaBruce
Divine Fire: Ron Athey in Europe – Dominic Johnson
The Light of Night – Lia Gangitano
Codpiece – Amelia Jones
HIV Lifecycle Model – Andy Campbell
Honcho – David Getsy
“Rod ‘n’ Bob” (Arrested Intimacies of the Flesh) – Amber Jamilla Musser
Leigh Bowery Cape – Alpesh Kantilal Patel
Resonate/Obliterate (or, Untitled [Dear Ron]) – Ming-Yuen S. Ma
“Raised in the Lord” – Jennifer Doyle
General Checklist – Amelia Jones
Ron Athey Timeline – Ana Briz and Andy Campbell
'This charming and disarming homage to a unique figure provides a backbone to the kinds of invasive physical performance for which Ron Athey is best known. [...] It lives and breathes, creating a well-rounded sense both of a life’s work to date and of the man himself. Fans of Athey’s work, or certainly anyone with an interest in the kinds of experimental performance artists who came punctured and bleeding out of the early 90s will find a great deal of thoughtful, thought-provoking content here.'
'A Bible-sized tumble through [Athey's] many nuances, chalking up his impact on Modern Primitive body art, HIV/AIDS activism, Los Angeles performance art, the ’90s culture wars, death rock and post-punk music scenes, independent publishing, and gay pornography. [...] The 'Writing Athey' chapters are undoubtedly the crown jewel of this collection, as it occasions the artist’s boundless humor and depth free rein on a number of topics. Athey’s voice rings with alacrity. Its pithy, informed, and sometimes bitchy frankness is unpretentious and singular. [...] The personal revelation of this Communion is an important one. And it’s the humanism that this collection so indelibly registers. [...] Queer Communion has a crush on a man who makes work out of all of the cultural cosmologies around him. It reads like a series of love affairs, a 439-page cruising diary through one of the most garrulous, affectionate, and deeply misunderstood practitioners working today. Queer Communion recalls that good old adage about the devil – like her, Miss Athey shimmers in the details.'
'Queer Communion [is] full of longing, thick with affect, and dense with erudition... [It] attests to the fact that, for many, the work Athey stages with and through his body becomes bound to the complex and singular unfolding of their intimate lives.'