Ron Athey
Video Stills
Set Pieces From An Opera
September 16 – October 28, 2006
Opening reception Saturday September 16th, 5-8pm

3830 Main St., Culver City, CA 90232
Contact, Erin Kermanikian
(310) 838-0609, fax (310) 838-0610
Web site,

Ron Athey, Video Stills from “Solar Anus”.

Western Project is pleased to present the first solo exhibition by Ron Athey in ten years.
Video Stills: select stills from Athey’s performances The Solar Anus (1998-2000) and Sebastian Suspended (1999) in 5”x7” format.

Set Pieces from an Opera: The Judas Cradle (2005-06): reconstruction of medieval torture device and circular “glossalalia station.”
“Ron Athey’s asshole has its own place in the history of contemporary performance art. In the 1998-2000 Solar Anus, he pulls a string of pearls from the puckered orifice, decorated with an elaborate and appealingly symmetrical black sunburst tattoo.  His body is both shown to be holy (inspired by a divine something, its potential transcendence forever yanked back to the immanence of holes and flesh) and enacted as a picture – but of what? Saying “queer body” or “queer subject” is not enough.”
--Amelia Jones, “Holy Body,” TDR 2006

In Ron Athey’s Video Stills, intimate  5x7 photographic works, narratives unfold into quite different disparate directions. In the Sebastian Suspended series, Athey is martyred by Darryl Carlton and frames reveal a dissociated ecstatic. In Solar Anus, an homage to both Georges Bataille and Pierre Molinier,  Athey becomes far more garish, transforming his face (and asshole) into something glamorous and unreal.

The individual Set Pieces polarize between rugged (wooden anal torture device) and sparkle (circular frame with solid beaded curtain), both designed and used to perform in physical trance states: transcendent atrocity exhibition through live penetration, ecstatic state through channeling spirit language.

“In JC, the highest of high culture (opera) is turned inside out. The habituated body of the heterosexual matrix (exaggeratedly performed in opera) is violently wrenched from its place through the deliberate perversions of sado-masochism – the dual poles of which themselves are parodied and overturned as Athey and Snapper continually change roles.”
--Amelia Jones, “Holy Body,” TDR 2006

Ron Athey is a Los Angeles-based artist and writer. He has recently shown work at the Hayward Gallery in London, the NRLA in Glasgow, and Artist’s Space in NYC. His upcoming November multi-media performance (made in collaboration with Dominic Johnson) inspired by the myth of Philoctetes, will premiere at London’s Chelsea Theatre. He has also exhibited at The Walker Art Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, London and numerous other institutions in France, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, Italy, Brazil, etc.

Relevant books:
Saint Sebastian: A Splendid Readiness for Death, catalogue from Kunsthalle group show, Wien
Live Culture
, catalogue from Tate Modern group show, artist pages and writing

For further information and images, please contact the gallery at 310-838-0609, or

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