Franko B, Aktion 398

Review in Issue 12-2 | Summer 2000

Franko B continues his blossoming relationship with ArtsAdmin at the Toynbee Studios with a miniature piece presented to an audience of one. Lasting only about a minute, this work is as fleeting, perplexing and challenging as all Franko’s work, and raises questions about the relationship between artist and viewer, and about what constitutes performance itself.

At the start of the presentation, having taken a numbered ticket of the kind you get at supermarket deli counters. I join the other spectators as we wait nervously in an antechamber in the labyrinthine Toynbee Hall. We wait a while. Every few minutes. a door opens and a doctor enters the room. The next number comes up. The next person leaves. And we wait a while. When my turn comes, I leave the room, and am shown into an adjoining chamber, where Franko awaits – covered in trademark white greasepaint, wearing one of those plastic collars you use on a stitched-up dog, bleeding from a small cut in his abdomen. Around the room, paint is smeared on the floor – evidence of action that I don’t know if I’ve missed, or was never supposed to see (I get the feeling that this was the performance, and what I’m witnessing is the aftermath, the documentation). Alone in this space, with a mute, bleeding figure on the floor before me, I feel excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Then the door opens, the doctor returns, asks me to leave, and that’s it. As a performance, this piece breaks all the rules, and doesn’t really offer any alternative; as a work of art, it is perplexing, painful, and thought provoking. Like the work of the Viennese Aktionists before him, Franko’s bodily viscerality cuts into our perceptions and wrenches out a reaction, making for challenging, difficult, and remarkable work.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-2
p. 28