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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
Nude artist denies 'cutting' claims
Franko B turned his show's title into a neon light
Another of Franko B's shows was called Oh lover boy
A controversial artist planning to paint himself white and have members of the public file individually past his naked body has said reports that he will make a 10cm wound across his stomach are "absurd".

Franko B, an Italian-born performance artist, said his show Aktion 398 will involve "a scratch" across his stomach "like a classical painting".

He denied reports in The Times that he is to "cut his stomach and invite an audience to look at the wound", saying "the scratch will be stuck together with tape - it is not a wound into my stomach".

"The scratch is symbolic - it is about being vulnerable," he told BBC News Online, adding that members of the public might find him sitting or lying down during the show.

Franko B
Franko B: Has provoked controversy in the past
The Times reported that the artist would make a "10cm incision across his stomach... from which blood will trickle during the six-hour 'performance".

It added that a doctor would "ensure that the wound does not heal until the show is over".

Franko B said this was also untrue, and that he would not need any medical attention during the performance.

He will be appearing at the Fierce Festival at the Warwick Arts Centre, Warwickshire, which is backed by the publicly-funded Arts Council.


It is important that we do fund a range of things, including things that are challenging

Spokesman
Arts Council

He has previously attracted controversy by standing on stage in a Christ-like pose with blood pouring from his wrists and feet, and walking up and down a catwalk while bleeding from his arms.

The Arts Council, which has funded the festival that will put on his show, said some art should make people shocked.

The show is intended to make people think about the nature of beauty and suffering, and the difference between the two, the artist has said.

"Sometimes people aim to provoke, they aim to challenge preconceptions and quite a lot of the stuff does make us wince," a spokesman for the Arts Council told BBC News Online.


Describing this as art is absurd

Tim Yeo
Shadow culture secretary
"But it is important that we do fund a range of things, including things that are challenging do stretch the boundaries, and fund some things which from time to time will shock and offend people. That's what art's about."

He said the Arts Council gave money to the festival, rather than directly to the artist.

Shadow culture secretary Tim Yeo said after reading The Times's article that public money should not be spent on performances involving mutilation.

"I am asking [culture minister] Tessa Jowell to investigate the decision by the Arts Council to fund a performance at the Warwick Arts Centre next week," he said.

'Provoking'

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on whether they would be looking into the case.

Franko B said he wanted to make the unbearable bearable by provoking the viewer to think about how we understand beauty and suffering.


Franko would say his work is about beauty, with his body as the canvas and his blood as the material

Mark Ball
Fierce Festival
Fierce Festival director Mark Ball said Franko B's performance was not as shocking as seeing pictures of assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn on television.

"Health and safety is of paramount importance to us and Mr B is totally in control of his own body," Mr Ball said.

"He is internationally acclaimed and has performed across the world. His repertoire mixes both visual art and live performance art and he would say his work is about beauty, with his body as the canvas and his blood as the material."

The performance follows a controversial exhibition of skinned corpses in London, which prompted a mixed reaction from those who saw it.

See also:

22 Mar 02 | Arts
Corpse show leaves sour taste
23 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Shock art hits London
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