Window Performance

Jan Fabre


Photography, 63 x 93 cm.
Materials: photo print

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0365_1).

In 1977 the young Jan Fabre gave a street performance in a shop window in Offerandestraat, one of Antwerp’s busy shopping streets. He let snails painted with the Belgian tricolour crawl over his bare skin. Window Performance is an example of Jan Fabre’s early artistic practice, which consisted largely of performances and which contained the seeds of his later theatre work. In all his performances, as well as his later work for the stage, the main focus is on the physical, bodily consciousness. Both this early work and what followed later are also characterised by a great sense of timing, staging and the arrangement of space. Fabre’s actions are linked to the wave of happenings that took place in the 60s and 70s. The artist himself says that he ‘discovered’ the performance when he was working as a window dresser and was confronted with passers-by and their reactions. These elements typify the whole of Jan Fabre’s oeuvre: direct confrontation, the provocation of his public, the arrangement of objects and looking for the right place for things. The snails fit perfectly into the artist’s personal iconography, in which animals and insects play an important part. The snail is a good example of the notion of the absent in the present, of appearance and disappearance, and of metamorphosis, which is one of the main components of Fabre’s visual idiom.

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