Künstlerhaus, Stuttgart, Germany,
17 March 1984
The first version of this performance, with different props, was given in the Bureau of Art Exhibitions in Lublin in 1983. However, it was interrupted.
In Stuttgart, on the floor there was a paper bird made by the artist, and a cage with a living budgie (canary?) by the wall. The living bird had a red band tied to its leg.
The artist, wearing long johns and army boots, was sitting on a chair and yanking his hair. Then he knelt by the cage and started talking to the bird, saying: “I love you”. At first it was tender, but then it became more and more aggressive and sounded like a military command. Next, he opened the cage, tied one end of the band to his boot, and started marching around the room, picking up the budgie (canary), which tried to fly but fell down because it was tied to him. Following that, the artist lit some kerosene on a plate and freed the bird by burning the band. He put the flame down, soaked his hair in the kerosene, lit it again and put his head near the flame, which made the hair start burning. The fire got extinguished very quickly in the backstage area.
A photo from this act was put on the cover of a book, canonical today, about live art, written by Elizabeth Jappe (Performance, Ritual, Prozess: Hanbuch der Aktionskunst in Europa, 1993)
See also: #94