Charles Atlas, Because We Must, 1989, video, color, sound, 52 minutes 30 seconds.


“XTRAVAGANZA: Staging Leigh Bowery”

Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier
Museumsplatz 1 & at Karlsplatz
October 19–February 3

Curated by Angela Stief

Like Jesus, Leigh Bowery left this morbid world at age thirty-three. Hardly a saint, however, Bowery was a complicated man: muse to Lucian Freud, cobelligerent of Michael Clark and Charles Atlas, thorn to straight thinking everywhere. “Everyone wanted to know Leigh because he was trendy,” said Bowery’s wife, Nicola Bateman, “but we just went to Sainsbury’s together.” A gravid Bowery would often eject Bateman, naked and “bloody” and covered in sausage links, from a bespoke “womb” onstage. But it seems he actually was pregnant, birthing outré pictures, performances, and repartee with virile glee. Through a selection of works by, of, and related to Bowery, including contributions from a suitably eclectic group of participants—a list that ranges from Ron Athey to Cerith Wyn Evans to Annie Leibovitz—“XTRAVAGANZA” stages a fitting tribute to a man whose delightful, haphazard oeuvre was really about one thing: inspiration.