Ron Athey's performance art explores themes of sexuality, religion, and stretching the limits of the human body. He'll mutilate himself with hooks and needles and bleed on stage. Raised in the Pentecostal church, which he rejected to become a heroin addict and then later a sober, HIV-positive performance artist, Athey has drawn on his religious background to incorporate iconography into his work since the 1980s. As part of the Performance Art International Conference, the Los Angeles-based Athey will give a talk at the San Francisco Art Institute. The next night, he'll do a full performance of his show Incorruptible Flesh: Messianic Remains at the Pigott Theater at Stanford. If it's not shocking and at least somewhat difficult to watch, then he's not doing it right. No kids allowed.
Ron Athey also speaks Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Lecture Hall at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., S.F. Admission is free.