Friday, 4 April 2014

PASSION/Flower at MPA Berlin 2014 - Ernst Fischer & Thomas John Bacon

Photo: Pekka Mäkinnen

25 May 2014 MPA BERLIN


Ernst Fischer & Thomas John Bacon


Two bodies; together yet apart, sit alone.
They are engaged in an act of ritual self-flagellation, occasionally peaking but never climatically so.

Interrupted momentarily, yet always endured and never reaching the passionate intensity it is meant to induce.

They continue...

Their wound grows; a flower opening up and holding a passion that is solely unique.

A hope or memory?

A passion; the secret flower of their failure burning on their skin.

We are very pleased to announce that Ernst Fischer & Thomas John Bacon will be presenting PASSION/Flower as part of MPA Berlin 2014.  Following this performance Ernst & Thomas will join fellow artists Greg McLaren & Steve Slater as part of panel discussion, where audiences will have the chance to ask questions of their practice.  

This work will take place MPA-HUB Holzmarktstraße 25, 10243 and is curated by Francesca Romana Ciardi.  To find out more about the programme visit here.  

This marks Thomas's second year at MPA Berlin.  To return with PASSION/Flower is not only an exciting opportunity in itself but it also gives me a rare opportunity in regards to my practice-as-research around the phenomenology of body based art practices.  This is because I originally curated an earlier dissemination of the work featuring Nicola Canavan alongside Ernst Fischer as part of the inaugural Tempting Failure in 2012.  To document a work utilising an experiential point of view from initially the outside and now to be within will offer an exciting loci towards my ongoing investigations around the perception of  Being & Self/s.  

Monday, 17 March 2014

British Library to archive

The Lived Body - photo by Julia Bauer

I am very pleased to announce that my website has been chosen by the British Library to be archived.  

The timing of this news has personally been fortuitous as it has coincided with a period when one is left to question ones own practice against the tides of life, opinion and culture that surrounds us all.  

Perhaps these words resonate with you, perhaps they do not, but as we live in a cultural landscape where self expression can become an issue of contention for any of us at anytime, the preservation of websites by the British Library, of which mine is just one among many, becomes all the more valuable.  

This website represents my personal archive, my practice & the work of others that I support.  To be selected to have this preserved for others to access long into the future is an amazing honour.  

Thank you to everyone who has ever supported me to this stage in my career.  Here is to the future; my practice into the unknown years ahead and those that may one day read these words or see images of my work in the British Library archive long after I depart this Earth.  

Stay strong, evolve and be true to yourself & your art.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Lived Body: statement

The statement on 18/2/14 released by Peninsula Arts via FaceBook regarding the cancellation of The Lived Body, was not agreed by the artists or the production team in advance, as had been promised.

We would like to make it categorically clear that any "logistics" preventing the staging of this performance was not due to the artists or the production.  The decision to cancel The Lived Body on 17/2/14 was Peninsula Arts'.

We would like to thank the students & lecturers in the Performing Arts department at Plymouth University for the united front they have presented and their ongoing support. We would also like to thank those further afield who have sent messages of encouragement, action and consolation.  

We hope to communicate further information as soon as we can but are currently seeking further advice on the matter.  

- The Lived Body (Production Team).

As of the 4th April 2014 the following post has been updated with additional information.  We have chosen not to remove the post but rather keep it as part of the archive of an event that should have taken place but was denied to exist.  

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Lived Body by Thomas John Bacon - Private View

A Private View Invitation

this video is not suitable for those of a sensitive nature

Updated 4/4/14: This work was intended originally to be shown for the last time as a stand alone action at Peninsula Arts in  February 2014.  However the work was prevented from being staged by the venue after a full get in and tech had been completed, leaving approx. 90 minutes in which to inform audiences of the cancellation.  Our initial response to this was detailed with a statement that can be read here.

Since then the individual/s representing the venue have continued to act in a questionable manner. Our last communication to the venue representation dated 19th March 2014 was never acknowledged.  

We do not feel the need to currently comment on this situation publicly but Thomas John Bacon, his production team and associated artists continue to work to highest standards to deliver work that truly embodies the rawness of phenomenologically driven live art enquiries into the body, being & self/s.  Thomas John Bacon, his production team and associates will also continue to support all artists that dare to create exciting work that risks to push the frontiers and shape the borders of engagement.  

17th February 2014 - 7pm for a 7:30pm start

Peninsula Arts, Plymouth 

share your perception

Original Posting about The Lived Body: Thomas John Bacon presents a practice-as-research performance (in collaboration with Llewyn Máire) featuring the body as a dialogue upon the phenomena of Being. A visceral, noise, light and intense body based event that deconstructs and then reconstructs in the moment of action, The Lived Body (M. Merleau Ponty).

Through a phenomenological deconstruction of Being, a physical presence is perceived in the moment of a split multiplicity, through broken body, shadow and sound.

Here this work subverts an assumed corporeality of blood-letting and body-based practices more generally to create something fragmented. A dismembered, distorted body bleeding out in more ways than simply the obvious: a body displaced, a being displaced. A shared being that is reconstructed in the moment of perception between spectator & figure through an ephemeral intangible Flesh (M. Merleau Ponty). Reforming to encompass all; beyond subject, beyond object, both embodied & disembodied, including you: your presence & perception.

We are sad to announce that due to exhaustion, Llewyn Máire will be unable to perform live on the 17th February as previously advertised.  The event will still be taking place and we are pleased to confirm that the very talented artist, Nick Kilby shall be taking on Máire's audio design; re/crafting the noise-scape for this evening. We would like to take this moment to wish Llewyn well.  

Although a small number of tickets will be available on the night, earlier reservation is strongly encouraged. Tickets are free and can be reserved in advance via: or via: 01752 585 050


Thomas John Bacon

Technical Manager & Lighting (Plymouth) - Andy Hopkins
Production Manager (Plymouth) - Helena Sands
Orignal Audio Design (Glasgow) - Llewyn Máire
Associate Producer - Hannah Moore
Original Lighting & Production (Glasgow) - Hannah Moore
Technical Liaison (Plymouth) - Tim Hardy
Event Liaison (Plymouth) - Victor Ramirez Ladron De Guevara & Hayley Partridge
Photography (Plymouth) - Tilly May
Promotional Photography - Julia Bauer
Technical Liaison (Glasgow) - Sarah Wilson
Event Liaison (Glasgow) - Nick Anderson & Rosana Cade
PhD Supervision - Paul Clarke (University of Bristol)
Plymouth Volunteers - Shaun Gourley, Pip James, Lillie de Laarschot, Hannah Soden
Special Thanks - Lee Miller
Additional Thanks - All the volunteers, supporters & audiences in Glasgow & Plymouth

Audience Note: This performance features extreme body art & high sound levels; it is not suitable for those of a sensitive nature.

Thomas John Bacon is in the process of completing his practice-as-research PhD at the University of Bristol, under the title of Experiencing a Multiplicty of Self/s.  The Lived Body features as part of this research.  

Monday, 2 December 2013

Multiplicity in Aktion: an interview with Thomas John Bacon, in conversation with Aleks Wojtulewicz.

Aleks Wojtulewicz is co-director of HFWAS: a Live Art initiative based in Birmingham UK.  Aleks is an artist who explores the limits of the parameters of durational art, often questioning ideas of difference & distinction between the masculine & feminine.  In October 2013, HFWAS hosted Thomas John Bacon's second variant/dissemination of his work SELF/s Portrait. This built upon the previous dissemination that was hosted by MPA Berlin 2013, by having 20 artists take on the aktion in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral.  The following is an interview between Aleks & Thomas based around his artwork, research and some of the specific elements of SP.     

Aleks: What is your current exploration in your art work?

Photo - Ray Spence
Thomas: I have always been interested in connecting with others through performance.  Be that working as a director of theatre over the past decade, choreographing Butoh works, teaching actors, artists or performance makers, or in my own Live Art.  About eleven years or so ago when my own practice of performance making started to begin to move away from theatre and toward Performance Art I became more and more interested with stripping away the pretence of theatrical
construct that existed in my trained body as an actor.  I understand of course that what one creates can hold a sense of theatrical heritage in regard to performance, but I speak more in particularly towards the body. At first, for example, this lead to me to experimenting with removing my trained voice from performance, and later my process of creation veered away from rehearsal in the traditional sense to something that was more based internally (for want of a better word).  

I spend ages breaking ideas for works down; to strive to find the raw materials within them, which I feel gives them a sense of simplicity or truth.  Essentially however, while technicalities may be practiced in some sense, where I currently sit means that I do not "rehearse" acts as I do not want to loose the truth of the experience from the Aktion.  Similarly to the Punk style of Butoh I choreograph, I relish the raw, rough, truth of an experience.  Presently, for the past three or four years, I have seen my work become rooted in Aktionism. I found myself explaining my use of this term quite recently.  For me it's political heritage in the Viennese Aktionists or modern use (re)born by my colleagues behind the New Aktionist Cookbook is vital, though my political engagement may be less broader as I am driven by putting the 'Real' into Live Art.  I recognise of course that Live Art is an umbrella term for more of a cultural strategy rather than a genre, but my strategy, my Live Art practice is very much about the raw reality of the work created in the moment, live, rather than something that veers too close to other theatrical, or dance constructs for example.  And I think that says more about my origins and where I want to go with my practice rather than to criticise anyone else.  I can make & direct theatre, I can act, I can choreograph & dance Butoh, therefore for me Live Art has to be something else.  It may draw on these areas but, personally I have to define a distinction.  So then, what is an Aktion? By using this word, I infer to the simple truth of the act that is made in the moment and shared.  To be pedantically simplistic, let me use this example: to repeatedly pour a cup of tea, to me, in principal, is an action.  However, to fully explore the possibilities of that act, as a work, as an experience, to be seen/shared (not defining by whom), makes it have the potential to become an Aktion (political or other).  The politics, or strategy that exists here, in a sense returns to that stripping back of the artifice to the 'Truth' of what Live Art for me was, can be, and should be, and that is the raw reality of it.  

Photo - Ray Spence
Now I know I have used two terms within this that are quite contentious; Truth & Real are as loaded as when one tries to unpack what they mean by 'Value' for example, when discussing Art practices.  So why are they relevant to me? Well around six years ago I became fascinated with the construct of the performance persona, and though through my PhD research I have moved away from this term, I must be honest and acknowledge that this is where it began.  I looked at the origins of myself, an actor who had broken his training, and was, from a certain perspective, roughing his edges to be honest and real on his journey from actor to performer to live artist. Understanding the unnatural construct of performance then, I wondered who I was when in front of an audience or spectators.  I looked at my contemporaries and those that had gone before us and began to deconstruct them also.  I even created a work that attempted to clash the styles of Live Art & theatre together; an incongruous presentation that would alienate an audience but in that moment reveal a tonal shift because the persona at play; it had a ripple in its presentation. Since then my research and practice has moved away from using the term 'persona' and found itself based more towards a phenomenological examination of Being & Self.  Though I prefer the term Self/s, that I have coined as part of my thesis, to reflect the idea of a multiplicity at play therein.  For me the study of experience & perception which acts as the basis of phenomenology is vital to de/constructing the very same truth, value or reality (or whatever word you may chose) therein that examines what it is to Be in midst of sharing a work/aktion/performance/artwork.  

Photo - Ray Spence
My current practice is undoubtedly born out of phenomenological investigations but it also straddles Queer Theory simply through the means of who I am as a person & my artistic practice and what I may or may not do within either.  For me phenomenology has the potential to expand our understanding  post-modern, post-structuralist forms, as it has enough awareness of the existence of its construct to not so easily disregard previous trains of thought but to be open to constant evolution. But even these two terms are limiting, as I think it goes beyond the constraints of meta, to attempt to philosophise on something more.  It has vitality in its exploration of Self & Being but also, a contemporary significance in relation to identity.  
As in queer theory, the potential negative impact of Objectivism may be utilised to reveal the construct of a structure; as in Feminist gender driven studies, Performance can be foregrounded as means to create; and equally a Narcissistic focus upon the construct of Self can, as used through phenomenology, help to unpack a constructed intersubjectivity.  
I feel all of these elements, though they may conflict with each other, have also the means to evolve and expand one another.  I do not necessarily have all the answers to this yet but for me this is what excites me and drives my research-as-practice as I do feel they can relate rather than obstruct each other and ultimately reciprocally evolve our greater understanding of  explaining the basics of perception & experience in body based practice.  

Photo - Ray Spence
AW: You are studying a PhD. What is your PhD exploring and why?

TJB: My PhD explores some of those ideas mentioned earlier.  It is titled Experiencing a Multiplicity of Self/s and focuses upon how Being for the body artist, as perceived through Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Lived Body,  is conceived simultaneously of both a Embodied (subject) & Disembodied (object) Self. And when engaged in extreme actions that feature risk or potential for failure, the Lived Body may be perceived as being made up of a multiplicity of Self/s. This perception takes place via  the flesh that exists between the Body and Other/s.  Then in acknowledging how the existence of the body is made through these mixed perceptions that stem from both object & subject, I seek to examine how we can now reinterpret Martin Heidegger's essay on The Origin of the Artwork and apply it to the live artist's body that produces no artefact other than itSELF/s (objectified & subjectified).  

AW: When you say SELF/s Portrait what do you mean?

TJB: For me, I was interested in how a live artist who works through aktion & body may produce a Self Portrait that visually represents a multiplicity of Self/s.  

Photo - Ray Spence
It should be noted that while I fully acknowledge the narcissism at play in the work, I feel it cannot
be avoided for any artist who is focused on deconstructing the perception of Being or Self.  And by acknowledging this, I accept and incorporate that element and it's potential fallibility into the work; in order to know something I want to expose this construct.  But equally I feel this vital to expanding the exploration of inter subjectivity that therefore may exist between myself and others who take part in the work, and in no way does the project disregard those that take part in order to foreground myself or to idolise myself as each artists' uniqueness is celebrated and incorporated into the work.   Far better than I could ever attempt to do, each artist who presents the SELF/s Portrait shares her or his Being with my own and in doing so their visual representation of me and theirSELF/s becomes part of the work.  A simple Aktion becomes unique to everyone who takes part; no one person can recreate it in exactly the same way and that is wonderful and to be celebrated.  

AW: What is the significance of black ribbon?

Photo - Ray Spence
TJB: The black ribbon came about through my earlier aktion, Traces of Being.  It too had its inspiration from an even earlier artwork I had created while I was a student at Goldsmiths, which involved the obscuring of anonymous identities in photos with thick black marker pen.  The wrapping of the head with ribbon in Traces of Being was designed as part of the journey from subject to object for the body and was used as a means to remove identity.  But ironically through its repetitive use in my artwork over the past three years, it has grown to iconically represent me.  I therefore wanted to give away this icon (in this specific context); this act is a part of what makes The SELF/s Portrait aktion.  

AW: Why is it long and thin as apposed to shorter and thicker?

TJB: It is an aesthetic choice. There is a specific width, length, and quality of ribbon.  Perhaps this says more about my own obsessive nature for such details rather than any greater meaning.  Though the length does have a significance to the time and duration of the aktion, and while in SP this was shortened, in the Tryptich the length is fixed as the head has to become completely covered: its the thin black line that stands between the removal of our identity (at least in one sense).   

AW: How do you see this project developing?

Photo - Ray Spence
TJB: I hope to construct four variants of SELF/s Portrait. Each variant is then designed to be
disseminated.  All bar one variant will be with my prior permission, but essentially I want to give this work away.  I am not seeking to make money out of this particular work but rather share it.  There is something quite exciting about the idea of this.  Everyone who takes part in producing this gives and shares something of theirSELF/s with my own and for that act alone I cherish and celebrate the community that we create together. 

AW: Would you like to develop this project further?

TJB: Only in the sense that to fulfil the four variants. After that I will let go of it, it will disappear, be shared or exist in the intent alone.  The first variant creates a raw gallery aesthetic to the piece (1.0 shown at MPA Berlin 2013), the second is en-mass public aktion (2.0 shown at Birmingham Cathedral, facilitated by HFWAS 2013), the third is a free instructional media document, the fourth will be a extreme durational aktion.  

AW: Why did you become an artist?

Photo - Ray Spence
TJB: Why do we need to breathe, drink or eat... there is something about life that without art, in all its forms makes it that much poorer.  I remember being stuck in a job (many years ago), where I was consumed by it, not out of love but out of necessity: I needed to make money and the shifts took up all the hours in the day.  I was even starting to progress up the chain, but I realised that without any sense of artistic expression I was going to go insane.  It was epiphanic really, and helped me make a very focused change in my life at that time.  

Further conversation with Thomas John Bacon on SELF/s Portrait can be found in the following: video link.

All images featured are taken from SELF/s Portrait 2.0 as featured in Birmingham.  For more photos please click here.  

Many thanks to all the artists involved in this project, HFWAS, MPA Berlin, Birmingham Cathedral, ACUD gallery and all the photographers and production assistants.  

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

SELF/s PORTRAIT 2.0 comes to Birmingham Cathedral


aktion dissemination 2.0 

1pm - 15th October 2013 - Birmingham

Thomas John Bacon's SELF/s PORTRAIT will be reworked into its second dissemination this month, following its successful premiere in Berlin as part of the MPA in May.  Produced by HFWAS in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral, this new work takes the idea of large scale subtlety to the public.

The work features a host of artists who will be exploring the conception of what the Self Portrait for a live artist may become when distilled into an action that also seeks to express, what is a central tenant for Thomas, of how Being is made of multiplicity of 'self/s'.  

Helen Grundy  
Rebecca Homer  
Khembi Maynard     
Jodie Ollis 
Rachel Parry   
Helena Sands
Thomas Sellick-Newton
Alvin Tran
Jade Williams 
Seen and unseen the portraits will appear from 1pm onwards, shifting the perception of the of those that may pass them by.  Solitary figures hidden amongst the daily lives of Others, connecting through an unseen Flesh, temporarily altering a communal landscape.  

To hear Thomas speak on some of the ideas of this aktion click here  This aktion is my self/s portrait.  It is a work-in-perpetual-progress and variations may be disseminated with my prior permission.

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Due to a situation outside of my control the servers on this website were corrupted and so some images and entires may not currently appear as they should.  This is affecting clicking on all images and being able to view them in full.  I have also lost all of my contacts on google due to this.  Please bear with me while I go through the exhausting process of attempting to fix this.

Update as of 16/09/13 

Most images are now live - though some older posts have completely lost their images.  The Gallery is under reconstruction as is the links page.  My Google contacts are irretrievable.

Update as of 25/09/13

Gallery is still under reconstruction and will return as soon as possible.  Please use the "contact me" box at the bottom of the page should wish to reconnect.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Artist & Performer Call Out: SELF/s PORTRAIT

HFWAS are pleased to announce that that they will be working with Thomas John Bacon on a large scale outdoor performance aktion to be set in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral in October 2013.  

This will be the second dissemination of the artists' SELF/s PORTRAIT, having previously shown a version of the work earlier this year in Berlin as part of MPA 2013.  Here the traditional concept of the self portrait takes on a new shape for the Live Artist through performance as a multiplicity of Self/s are perceived in silent action where the body is both subject & object as it traverses ideas of identity & Self/s in an experiential act, capturing the artist's self portrait.

If you would like to apply to become part of this aktion, no previous experience is necessarily required but you must be comfortable with performing in a public setting and not suffer from claustrophobia.  Though this is an unfunded call out, it will offer an invaluable experience and all applicants that will be required on the 15th October in Birmingham for the performance, will also get to take part in a free early morning workshop with Thomas John Bacon.  To apply, simply email your contact details, any relevant links to websites or previous work and include a 150 words on how you would define your "Self" to :

Application deadline is: Midnight 30th September.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tempting Failure 2013 - Review Roundup

We had some great coverage of Tempting Failure 2013. And less than halfway into the evening we reached our venue capacity by Midnight.  Here are some of the views of those that came to see our wonderful celebration of these under-represented & extreme arts:  

Our love and thanks to all artists, audiences and supporters alike - here's to the future of Tempting Failure! 

Photo Credit: Tilly May & NW.