Precarious Performance Art Turns Everyday Activities Into Awe-Inspiring Spectacles

By Sara Barnes on October 4, 2021

Artist Thierry Mandon does everyday things in a very precarious way. In two separate performance pieces, he read a book in bed as well as at a dining table—all while suspended far above the ground. Simultaneously awe-inspiring and unsettling, his works Inside–Outside and Tableau vivant (respectively) add a level of spectacle and drama to the parts of our lives that are otherwise uneventful.

Mandon performed the two pieces years ago but still remembers the responses from viewers. “The works Tableau vivant and Inside–Outside give us the impression that time has frozen and space reversed,” Mandon tells My Modern Met. “During the performances, passersby were very surprised, not knowing very well if what they were seeing was real. These situations led the spectators to question what is an artistic performance.”

Mandon uses photography and videos in conjunction with performance to communicate the larger themes of his work. Together, the media expresses “the poetic character of everyday life, making subtle transformations, where the viewer finds both tragic and comic aspects of their existence.”

The sentiment is perfectly communicated through Inside–Outside and Tableau vivant. There is tragedy on a number of levels; Mandon could fall from his post and tumble towards the ground. And from a psychological perspective, some might find the banality of routine a quiet calamity in and of itself. And it all—from the artist being suspended in a bed to these regimens we establish for ourselves—is so absurd at times that you have to laugh.

In two precarious performance art pieces, artist Thierry Mandon suspended himself above the ground while reading a book.

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