How Do You Write a Risk Assessment for Lips of Thomas?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Art students who experiment, think differently and take risks are often praised for their efforts. But what happens when students become interested in developing performance-based work involving risk of injury and physical pain? Such work has strong art historical precedents and projects by, for example, Marina Abramović, Stuart Brisley, Chris Burden, Gina Pane and Denis Oppenheim provide a legitimate framework for students to claim their interests are grounded in established practice. This article explores how academic staff navigate the ethical, moral and legal issues provoked by students setting out to self-harm, expose themselves or otherwise cause themselves an injury as part of their art practice. The article discusses the authority of the tutor and how health and safety legislation works within the context of performance art. Finally, through the process of writing a risk assessment for Marina Abramović’sformative 1974 work Lips of Thomas, the article aims to discover the limits of what is possible within an educational institution today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Performance Research on 01/12/2016, available online:


  • art education
  • Marina Abramović
  • risk assessment
  • Performance Art

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