(October 1, 2015)
Performance artist Ron Athey to visit Centenary for "Religion Matters" speaker series
SHREVEPORT, LA — Legendary performance artist Ron Athey will visit Centenary College classes in religious studies, art, and theater to discuss his long career using art to confront issues of gender, religion, the social marginalization of sexuality, and the medical objectifications of bodies. He will also present a public lecture, "Pleading in the Blood: life/art/performance," on Thursday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Carlile Auditorium (Room 114) in Mickle Hall. Athey's visit to Centenary is part of the College's annual "Religion Matters" speaker series and is generously underwritten by the Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture Program.
"Athey's historic work responding to the AIDS crisis, really providing a vocabulary for wrestling with that catastrophe, secured his fame and importance," said Spencer Dew, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. "Only recently has attention been focused on what Athey's been saying all along: this is a religious response, re-engaging Christian narratives and symbols, re-inventing ritual for new contexts and new communities."
Recently returned to Los Angeles after a six year residence in London, Athey is an artist, writer, and performer whose 35 year career has frequently pushed the boundaries of artistic practice with bloody live portrayals of life and death as a means of confronting the AIDS crisis, among other issues. He originally emerged as an important figure in the West Coast punk, goth, and industrial music scenes, but throughout this period he was also grappling with his childhood spent in Pentecostal revival meetings.
In 1992, he began staging what has become a performance "torture" trilogy: Martyrs & Saints, 4 Scenes in a Harsh Life, and Deliverance. More recent works include Judas Cradle, Self-Obliteration, and Gifts of the Spirit: Automatic Writing, in which Athey more fully explores his Pentecostal upbringing and the creation of an ecstatic experience.
In 2013, Athey worked with editor Dominic Johnson to write and publish a monograph dedicated to his life and work, Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performance of Ron Athey. He is a visiting faculty member at Cal Arts for the 2015-2015 academic year, and will draw on material from Pleading in the Blood for his discussions and presentations at Centenary.
Centenary's "Religion Matters" series is an annual set of lectures designed to generate wide-ranging conversations about the intersection of religion and other cultural issues across the larger Shreveport-Bossier community. The next "Religion Matters" event is Thursday, October 29th at 7 p.m., when Dr. Rhiannon Graybill of Rhodes College will present "The Horror of Hosea: Female Bodies and Masculine Anxieties in Hosea 1-3."