Constructing a Live Image on Someone Variations

Incorporate props and costumes: Provide a theme for the exercise. After exploring and handling the body of your partner for a few minutes, go to the pop archeological/artifact installation and take one prop or costume item and incorporate it into the live image. Make sure the relationship between object and image is not a literal one. In subsequent parings you may work incrementally with two, three, four, and finally as many props and costume items as you feel necessary. It should be a gradual process. Don’t add so much stuff that your partner ends up looking like a human Christmas tree in a Tijuana storefront!

Add simple movement: After practicing this exercise a few times, you can give your creation a small, repetitive, obsessive, enigmatic, or contradictory action to add layers of meaning. Try to avoid complex choreographies and literal or theatrical connections between action and image. Remember to avoid verbal directions. Manipulate their body carefully until they understand the action you want them to carry out. They will tacitly collaborate with you by making it easier for you to manipulate their bodies.

Think of the body as a blank canvas or text: You can begin to use makeup, art supplies, and body paint. You can “mark,” “decorate,” “draw,” “tag,” and write on the body of your “raw material.” Use eyeliner pencils, lipstick, waterbased markers, and body paint. Use emblematic words, short poetic phrases, or simple drawings, designs, or symbols. This is a great method for complicating, narrowing, or altering the meaning of an image.

Incorporate yourself into the image: Whenever you feel that the image you have created requires your own participation, you can insert yourself in it, turning it into a diptych.


Gómez Peña, G., & Sifuentes, R. (2011). Exercises for Rebel Artists: Radical Performance Pedagogy (1st ed.). Routledge. Page 106-108.
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