Stelarc «Suspension Piece» 1976 - 1989.
Stelarc in his performance piece subjects his body to hanging by flesh-hooks, attached to a number of rocks. His weight is counterbalanced by the rocks allowing us to reflect upon who or more exactly perhaps what we are. The simple parallel, devoid of issues of content, is counterbalance - which in the Stelarc piece particularly, suggests equity of matter.
From Art Adventures: 1990 - One of Stelarc's performances includes hanging from hooks pierced through his skin. Reportedly the artist picked up the idea of hanging by fleshhooks by seeing pictures of hookhangers in Ceylon. Usually he chooses high places (several floors high) for this performance. The other performances of Stelarc focus on the cybernetic integration of man and machine. He has developed an working, artifical, third hand and has made a technological sculpture that can be inserted into his stomach.
Stelarc: During a 10 day long exhibition the artist stayed in the gallery and did not eat anything. The electrical signals of his body were amplified and reproduced through loudspeakers (?) so the public could hear the changes in his physical condition. For a week long exhibition in Tokyo the lips and eyelids of the artist were sewn shut with needle and thread. The artist could eat nor drink and he was pressed between two wooden boards. It was an experiment in sensory deprivation.
In Mexico the artist ran into a pane of glass and broke through it. (Event for penetration/extrapolation, 1976) -
«The time-experience was surprising. I remember that everything slowed down in the moment I touched the glass. When I broke through everything happened in slow motion and after I hit the ground time resumed its normal pace.
* I performed the Suspensions between 1976 and 1989. Hooks were driven into my skin and I was suspended from them in various positions. I New York the ropes were suspended from two buildings on opposite sides of the street. The police intervened and stopped the performance. * We always used 18 hooks for the suspensions. Human skin is incredibly tough, even 3 hooks would be sufficient. But then the performance would become very painful.
I never planned a fixed time for the suspension pieces. The shortest suspension took only one minute. I was hung vertically from the hooks and I was not fit that day. I broke into cold sweat and had to struggle. So we stopped. Another time we stopped because I was losing the feeling in my skin, it was beginning to feel numb. Another time (at the Gallery Tamuga, Japan) I was hanging in a stone circle. We stopped because the telephone rang. In Tokyo I was suspended from a hot-air balloon. It was very windy and I became seasick and almost had to throw up. This would have been very unpleasant for the people under me who were watching the performance. My longest suspension took 30 minutes. I was never intent on breaking some kind of endurance record.
In Copenhagen I was suspended from a crane and lifted to a height of 60 meters. It was a surprising experience. After 20 meters I could not hear the sounds of the city. I only heard the sound of the wind and these strange tones produced by tightened skin.»