Bloed [Blood]


As an important source of inspiration and motivating force to create his performances, Jan Fabre cites his visit as a young student to an exhibition on stigmata and self-chastisement at the Groeningenmuseum in Bruges.  The overpowering corporality and the significance of the blood sacrifice later sets the artist to perforate his own body.  During My body, my blood, my landscape, Fabre cuts his body with a razor and uses his own blood to draw words and signs on paper.  In later performances, as well, Fabre draws inspiration from Flemish Masters of the Middle Ages like Jan Van Eyck, Jeroen Bosch and Pieter Brueghel the Elder.  Skeletons and skulls, stuffed animals and harnesses are recurring elements.

During the over 5 hour-long performance Sanguis / Mantis, Fabre puts forward his views regarding art, religion, trance and transformation, and writes a manifesto in his own blood:

'There’s no getting used to art’.  In a ritualistic manner, he moves among 13 tables, driven by different pieces of equipment.  The loss of blood plus the effects of rust toxicity from the harness compel the artist into a near mystical state of exhaustion, so expanding his consciousness and stirring artistic creation.  Destruction and creation are two edges of the same sword.  The form of the helmet is based on the praying mantis, which acts as an oracle of future events while sucking blood.

Out of a respect for art and a love of beauty, Jan Fabre and Marina Abromović in Virgin / Warrior together explore the notion of virgin warriors who down through history have fought for beauty.  Enclosed within a giant-sized cage, Fabre wears the harness of the rhinoceros beetle; Abramović wears that of the wasp.  The performance lasts some 4 hours, and consists of 26 parts or actions.  These vary from references to iconic images (Saint George and others, the Pietà) and the expression of states of mind, to writing and drawing with each other’s blood.  These operations are a battle taken on by both artists in order to reach a new state of being: "We try to get back to a state of childhood, of transparency, of virginity in our transactions."

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