Video © 2021 Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Pace Live

Claes & Coosje's The Course of The Knife

A Workshop Considering Sculpture, Performance, Architecture, and the Absurd

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021
540 West 25th Street
3:30 – 4:30 PM EDT
RSVP via (opens in a new window) Eventbrite

This event assembles a contemporary cast of performers, writers, poets, and visual artists including K8 Hardy, David Levine, Precious Okoyomon, Hari Kunzru, and Pace Live Curatorial Director Mark Beasley for a workshop on Il Corso del Coltello (The Course of The Knife)

The Course of The Knife was a canonical site-specific multi-media performance created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen at the invitation of the curator Germano Celant. Realized together with Celant as well as Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s close friend and collaborator, the architect Frank. O. Gehry, the work was staged in Venice, Italy in 1985.

Conceived as a discussion panel-come-table-read, this workshop pays homage to The Course of The Knife, considering its impact and history as a pioneering, experimental, ephemeral, and absurdist fusion of sculpture, theater, and architecture, as well as a key and generative period in Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s long history of collaboration. 

Event Details

Claes & Coosje's The Course of The Knife: A Workshop Considering Sculpture, Performance, Architecture, and the Absurd
Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021
3:30 – 4:30 PM

How to Attend

RSVP via (opens in a new window) Eventbrite


540 West 25th Street
New York

This event presents excerpts and characters from the original script interpreted by five contemporary artists, theater producers, writers, and performers, each of whom will read for one of the original main characters—Dr. Coltello (Oldenburg), Georgia Sandbag (van Bruggen), Frankie P. Toronto (Gehry), Basta Carambola (Germano Celant), and Primo Sportycuss (Pontus Húlten)—re-enlivening the original through their own personal interpretations.

Staged for a select audience at Pace Gallery amidst an installation of sculpture, drawings, performance artifacts, and props from the original 1985 production, this event reanimates the exuberant chaos of Coltello in order to investigate visual arts contemporary relation to theater, performance, and the written word. 

An early proponent of performance, Oldenburg, from his experimental Ray Gun Theater to Coltello, forged new possibilities for hybrid aesthetic practice and interdisciplinary collaboration, blurring the lines between art, theater, architecture, and sculpture. 

What remains and what connects with the live art, performance, and narrative of today’s contemporary hybrid practice?

Coltello BW.jpg

K8 Hardy; David Levine; Precious Okoyomon; Hari Kunzru; Mark Beasley

K8 Hardy

K8 Hardy is a punk rock artist who works across a motley array of mediums, including video, photography, and sculpture. Through her art practice, she unwittingly becomes a brand, intentionally exploiting persona and pop culture. Long before the ubiquity of the selfie, Hardy was experimenting in documenting her looks and various fictional selves. Her work takes us to the edge of “good taste” and makes us question those parameters.

Hardy came up through the Riot Grrrl scene. She has participated avidly in collaborations, activism, and collectives, like W.A.G.E. and LTTR. Her work is in the collection of The MoMA, The Guggenheim, and Whitney Museum of American Art. She has exhibited at such notable institutions as The Tate Modern, Kunsthaus Zurich, Artists Space, PS1, SFMOMA, Dallas Contemporary, amongst others.

David Levine

David Levine's work encompasses theater, performance, video, and photography, and has been exhibited or commissioned by Creative Time, MoMA, REDCAT, MACBA, and Mass MoCA, among others. He has also directed operas and plays at BRIC House, the Atlantic Theater, Primary Stages, PS122, and Soho Rep. His solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Some of the People, All of The Time, was named one of the 10 best exhibitions globally by the New York Times in 2018. 

He is a contributing editor to BOMB, and his essays and dramatic writing have been published in n+1, Theater, Cabinet, Parkett, and Triple Canopy.

He is the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship and 2013 OBIE award, in addition to fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute, the MacDowell Colony, and the Foundation for Contemporary Art. His holographic installation Dissolution will premiere at the Jeu de Paume in the exhibition Fata Morgana in March 2022.

Precious Okoyomon

Precious  Okoyomon is a poet and artist living in New York City. They have had institutional solo exhibitions at the LUMA Westbau in Zurich (2018), the MMK in Frankfurt (2020), Performance Space New York (2021) as well as major performances commissioned by the Serpentine Galleries, London (2019), and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2019). Their second book But Did U Die? is forthcoming from Serpentine and Wonder Press in 2021. They are the recipient of the 2021 Frieze Artist Award

Hari Kunzru

Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions, Gods Without Men, White Tears, and Red Pill. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages, and his writing has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, writes the ‘Easy Chair’ column for Harper’s, and is the host of the podcast Into the Zone. His art writing has appeared in Frieze and October. Catalogue essays include Glenn Brown, Paul Noble, Kara Walker, Gustav Metzger, Damian Ortega, Jamie Diamond, and Harland Miller. His novella, Memory Palace, was the basis for the 2013 exhibition of the same name at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He is a member of the editorial collective of Mute magazine, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and an honorary fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. He is the recipient of fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Public Library, and the American Academy in Berlin. He teaches on the Creative Writing Program at New York University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Mark Beasley

Formerly the inaugural Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar, Curator of Media and Performance Art at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., Mark Beasley is currently Curatorial Director of Pace Live at Pace Gallery. A former curator at the New York-based performance biennial Performa curator he has worked with and commissioned work by artists such as Mike Kelley, Florian Hecker’s, Ed Atkins, Tori Wranes, Frances Stark, and Mark Leckey. In 2011 he established the Malcolm McLaren Award for Performa, presented by Lou Reed to Ragnar Kjartansson. He has written for a number of periodicals including Frieze, Art Forum, E-Flux, and The Serving Library, and contributed to many artists' catalogues.

Oldenburg Van Bruggen.jpg

Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen

Internationally renowned for their collaborative artistic practice, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen have produced sculpture, drawings, and colossal monuments that transform familiar objects into states that imply animation and sometimes revolt. A leading voice of the Pop art movement, Oldenburg came to prominence in the New York art scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s, where he established himself with a series of installations and performances influenced by his surroundings on the Lower East Side. In 1977, Oldenburg married curator and art historian Coosje van Bruggen, with whom he would collaborate for over thirty years. Together, Oldenburg and van Bruggen produced sculpture, drawings, performances, and colossal monuments that transform the familiar into the unexpected.

Learn More

  • Pace Live — Claes & Coosje's The Course of The Knife: A Workshop, Jul 21, 2021