STUART BRISLEY, Being and Doing, 1984, Arts Council England Collection / British Film Institute

Being and Doing, 1984

Film, B&W and colour, 55 minutes

Arts Council England Collection / British Film Institute

Stuart Brisley: Rituals Once Took Place Without Observers

+ Q&A with Stuart Brisley and BFI Curator William Fowler

Artist Stuart Brisley's investigations into 'performance art' screen alongside his film about a maritime tragedy, plus an extract from a unfinished, never-before-seen episode of Arena.


Performance art is a term used to describe a live art activity that fits uneasily into critical categories. It is ephemeral and often dangerous. In Being and Doing (1984, 55min) artist Stuart Brisley and filmmaker Ken McMullen collaborate to search out the origins of performance art, connecting it not to modernism but to ancient folk rituals in England and Europe. These rituals offer a drama where the division between performer and audience has not been institutionalised. Also screening: Brisley's Estonia (2007, 24min) about the mysterious sinking of the MS Estonia in the Baltic Sea in 1994, and how it was reported; plus a very special, never-before-screened or broadcast, incomplete episode of the documentary series Arena, on Stuart himself. Confrontational actions are presented both to the general public outside the Hayward Gallery and to a live BBC studio audience. All the titles consider issues of visibility, catharsis and the borderlands between spectatorship and participation. We look forward to welcoming Stuart Brisley for a Q&A as part of the event.