Despite the use of multiple artistic techniques and disciplines, the ephemeral is omnipresent in the oeuvre of James Lee Byars. His performances give evidence to a great preference for short and fleeting practices.The Perfect Kiss is a striking example of such a minimal and short-lived action. The performance shows James Lee Byars dressed in black, forming a kiss with a subtle gesture of his lips, after which he quietly leaves the room. His letters, which must be considered as autonomous works of art, testify of a strong predilection for fragile materials. His sculptures and installations also quite literally refer to death in their title, for instance The Figure of Death (1986). He was fascinated by death so much, that in 1994 he even "staged" his own death in the installation/performance The Death of James Lee Byars. A remarkable illustration from our own local history is the performance The Perfect Place (is on Top of Your Head). This very short action in front of a select group of guests, showed Byars placing a white orchid on the head of Lieve De Deyne, I.C.C. director Flor Bex' wife.
The 17 minute film The 100 Images Are In One Second is a precious document that provides us with a unique, contemporary insight in Byars' fleeting "actions". However, completely in line with his preference for the ephemeral, Byars' initial plan was to make a one second film with these images, hence the title The 100 Images Are In One Second.
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The Perfect Place ( is on...
James Lee Byars, The Perfect Place ( is on Top of Your Head) , 1976. Performance.