The Artist is Arm Wrestling

About the Project

For the 2014 FNB Jo’burg Art Fair, the award-winning performance artist Anthea Moys will challenge artists, security guards, curators, cleaners, volunteers, organizers and members of the general public to a test of strength, as she takes on all-comers in the ancient discipline of arm wrestling.

“The Artist is Arm Wrestling” is a playful re-imagining of the Marina Abramović work “The Artist is Present” (2010) – a 736-hour and 30-minute performance piece during which the artist sat immobile in MOMA’s atrium while members of the public were invited to take turns sitting opposite her. Some participants wept, others fled, whilst others stood their ground and held her gaze.

By inserting an armwrestling contest into the space between the artist and the public, Anthea Moys introduces rules. In doing so, she creates a completely different game. ‘The Artist is Arm Wrestling’ explores how rules paradoxically encourage play, and reveal true character. How and why do we compete, and for what?

The work is a continuation of two performance cycles Anthea Moys has staged over the last year – “Anthea Moys vs The City of Grahamstown” and “Anthea Moys vs The City of Geneva”, and also represents the continuation of her long-standing engagement with participatory performance practice in contemporary art, and her interest in play, risk, and failure.

The performance will be facilitated by Master of Ceremonies and Head Judge, Gerard Bester.