This will be the first ever publication devoted to the work of Ron Athey, a central figure in the development of performance art since the 1980s. Edited by Dominic Johnson, Pleading in the Blood: The Art of Ron Athey will foreground the prescience of Athey’s work, exploring how his visceral, body-based practice foresaw and precipitated the central place afforded to the body in art and critical theory in the 1990s and after. While histories of art, performance, theatre, and subcultures have consistently acknowledged Athey’s major contribution to the development of contemporary cultures, there has never been a dedicated book about him.Pleading in the Blood aims to fill this conspicuous gap.
Developed in close collaboration with Ron Athey, this book seeks to provide a critical overview of Athey’s practice. In his stagings of crisis, sexuality and death in the time of AIDS, Athey calls into question the limits of artistic practice. Athey has been a crucial figure in the development of performance art and body art; club performance; intersections between punk, queer and alternative cultures; sexual politics, specifically in relation to queer practices and the politics of HIV/AIDS; and the representation of religion and ritual.