Chapter 6: Perfect Death, 1974–1997, Brussels-Amsterdam-Antwerp-Cologne-Caïro / Hoofdstuk 6: Perfecte dood / Chapitre 6: Mort parfaite
After ‘question’ came ‘perfect’, a word that Byars first used in the titles The Perfect Love Letter is to Write I Love You Backwards in the Air and The Perfect Kiss in Brussels (1974). This kiss was still closely related to Byars’s participatory plays where he gave directions, but after a while his performances became more austere one-man plays. The Perfect Kiss in Antwerp (1976) was a brief kiss in the air with the tinniest movement of the lips, which could be performed anywhere, anytime.
The performances gradually became more theatrical, until Byars performed his own death at Galerie des Beuax-Arts of Marie-Puck Broodthaers (1994). While a violinist plays Béla Bartók’s Marche funèbre, Byars enters a room entirely lined in gold leaf, lies down for a minute and leaves. After this five diamonds are positioned to symbolise Byars’s body: Five Points Make a Man.
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James Lee Byars, Selfportrait, 1959. Other, painted wood, black paper ball (in six parts), 161.5 x 33 x 199 cm.
The Tomb of James Lee Byars
James Lee Byars, The Tomb of James Lee Byars, 1986. Object, globe consisted of lime sand brick, 100 x 100 x 100 cm.
Extra-Terrestrial, ICC An...
James Lee Byars, Extra-Terrestrial, ICC Antwerp, 1976. Miscellaneum, one-page catalogue, white paper in black cover, 29.5 x 21 cm, 29.5 x 42.5 cm.
Halo around the ICC, Antw...
James Lee Byars, Halo around the ICC, Antwerp, 1976. Other, white paper, 29.5 x 21 cm.