Boris Nieslony

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Boris Nieslony



During his career as a performance artist Boris Nieslony has also taken the role of event organiser and researcher, going this three activities very much together in its essence. He has been always politically and social compromised and his whole life has been, and actually is, really devoted to this artistic manifestation.

He was co-founder of the Kunstlerhaus Hamburg in 1977 and in 1978 of the Kleinen Ausstellungsraum, which was developed as a space to continually show installation and performance art in Germany.

In 1981 he created numerous live art situations such as “Das Konzil”, were 70 people were confronted with each other in a performance event, sitting around a big table and performing day and night.

Nieslony was part of diverse performance groups such as the Tool Group that was an open, nomadic and chaotic system, which was existing in parallel to the Panoramagruppe (dealing with nomadic performances) or the Stil Gruppe (focused in talking and speech performances). With the Quasi Mythische Orte (Quasi Mythic Locations) he organised performance tours around Germany in very special locations such as Stuttgart`s Canalisation, the jail in Stammheim or in the middle of the highway during the daily-stop-and-go rush hour.

In May 1982 he repeated the performance event Das Konzil in the form of 30 days performance reclusion followed by an open live situation inside of two big overseas containers located in the middle of the street first and in a theatre space later. In this big performance event he developed the idea to create a Performance Art Network, which has last until today materialised in the publication of the magazine Die Schwerze and the work with the association ASA from 1990.

This research, and “service” project counts with three facets: The recompilation of information about alternative art spaces and projects with political dimension; a second section collecting material free to be used for developing ideas and interactive performance projects with definitions, pictures and objects; and finally an archive of Performance Art with more than 500 dossiers of performance artists form around the world compiling literature, reviews, articles, images etc. This project has developed to one of the biggest performance art archives in Europe today.

In 1983 together with the company Bender & Nern, M. Kern, K. Shimono and B. Schwarz he founded the Projektkunst e.V. The most important work was the installation of overseas containers, which could be moved around as mobile live art situations.

After meeting other international artists such as N. Klassen and Z. Warpechowski, R. Marek, R. Ingold and R. Samens they came up to create the work group Black Market International, organising Performance Art events around the world. Nigel Rolfe and Roi Vaara were incorporated in the group in1989.

In 1993 Black Market International invited 15 international artists for the performance piece Empedokles in the framing program of Documenta IX. Parallel to that, ASA organised the project 100 days of service, the Quantenpool Koin.

In 1991 they created The Black Market International Philosophical Statement under the title “Network and its Structure”, which aims to enable performance art in every moment, away from all forces of habit.

Interviewed by Irene Pascual and Johnny Amore in Cologne

Major works include An Edible Family in a Mobile Home (1976); Packed Lunch (1979); Drawing on a Mothers Experience 1988; The Daily Life Series 1-5 (1991-2001), commissioned by LIFT; and How To Live, funded by a Wellcome Trust Sciart Production award and ACE and launched at the Barbican, London, in 2004. Bobby Baker’s acclaimed Diary Drawings exhibition was first shown at the Wellcome Collection in London in 2009, and continues to tour internationally.  It comprises 158 images selected from over 700 drawings created by Bobby between 1997 – 2008, charting her struggle to overcome mental and later physical illness. Following her critically acclaimed exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in 2009, Bobby Baker’s Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me, and the subsequent Mind Book of the Year Award winning book (2011), her work now focuses increasingly on the area of mental health and its relationship with the arts.

Her company is called Daily Life Ltd, part of the Arts Council National Portfolio, and is based in East London. Baker has recently been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Queen Mary, University of London.

Daily Life Ltd is currently touring a new production Mad Gyms & Kitchens commissioned for Unlimited, a project celebrating disability, arts, culture and sport on an unprecedented scale as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Audio interview