Past event


Presented in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles


The Sunday, August 29th performance of Acephalous Monster is an in-person event at REDCAT that will also be simultanously livestreamed. In-person tickets are sold out, but you can purchase a ticket to the livestreamed virtual performance by clicking here

For more than three decades, influential performance artist and provocateur, Ron Athey’s body of work has focused on creating new rituals through mortification of his body as an artistic practice toward the divine, the ecstatic, and celebration of queerness and community. Drawing parallels with our contemporary life, with Acephalous Monster, a performance utilizing projections, readings, lectures, sound and appropriated text, Athey turns to the Acéphale, the figure of the headless man, which inspired philosopher George Bataille’s secret society of the same name to combat nihilism and fascism before the Second World War in France. The headless or beheaded man is a powerful symbol of radical transformation, the driving force of all of Athey’s performances pushing towards the merging of humans and gods.

The work unfolds in five scenes: A choreography based on sound poet Brion Gysin’s Pistol Poem (1960): a short Bataille lecture on the madness of Nietszche and the horse of Turin; and pantomimed interpretations of the decapitation of Louis XVI; the apotheosis of Dionysus, revealed in the Minotaur; and a cephalophore (decapitated saint) to the words of artist and occultist Genesis P-Orridge’s work, EsoTerrorist.

In this Los Angeles premiere, leading composer in contemporary music Sean Griffin and his consortium Opera Povera create an exquisite live score accompanying this transgressive work.


This performance contains mature content and a loud sounds from a non-projectile blank shooting gun.

“No documentation, audio recording or visual record could ever capture the drama or reverie achieved from actually attending a Ron Athey show…”

Dangerous Minds“Truly fabulous spectacle plays with surface not for the sake of entertainment, but as allegory…”

Presented in conjunction with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ exhibition Queer Communion: Ron Athey on view through September 5, 2021. Acephalous Monster was commissioned by Performance Space New York.