Art as a Gamble, Gamble as an Art

Jan Fabre


Performance, 00:50:00.


​New York, School of Visual Arts

Here Fabre touches upon the subject of the relationship between artist and art critic. He makes a number of critics adhere to the rules of the game and then conducts them while they read their critiques. Then the artist and critics play games of chance.


'The practical preparations for my performance
'Art as a Gamble, Gamble as an Art', which I'm going
to do at the School of Visual Arts, are not going
smoothly, but it is satisfying as an artistic journey.
I see images, I see actions.
Now I still want to put it into words.
Why do it like this and not otherwise?
The image comes before knowledge.
And language after that?'

(Jan Fabre, New York, 13 March 1981)

'Timothy Binkley gave me a no. 314 to calm
my nerves.
I'm going up the wall.
I'm over-exalted about tomorrow.
Fear of failure?
A true performance can never fail.
I wish a second Jan Fabre existed.
I would sacrifice him with a flint axe.
Cut him open lengthwise.
Take out his heart, his liver, his kidneys, his spleen,
his stomach and then his intestines and drape them
round me like jewellery.
Cut him into pieces and slowly let the pieces
of Jan Fabre flesh cook and crispen over a fire so
I can eat him with great relish.'

(Jan Fabre, New York, 15 March 1981)

'My performance of 'Art as a Gamble, Gamble
as an Art' was sterile.
It was too carefully planned and too conceptual.
The critics who had to gamble agains me
behaved like shy, bad actors.
When I conducted them while they read out
what they had written, they refused to follow
my musical lead. They were too concerned
with their own ego, which was in the spotlight.
There was no action, no reaction.
While I was in action I had the feeling I was creating
an installation with dead extras.'

'The applause was respectable.
The reactions afterwards were good.
There was someone who said: 'Intellectually
it was very dense and rich.'
What rubbish.
My aim was the exact opposite.
I wanted to cause a physical sensation in the audience.
I wanted to make their bodies think,
not make their intellect feel.'

(Jan Fabre, New York, 17 March 1981)

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