fbpx Kembra Pfahler, The Manual of Action | CIRCA 20:24

CIRCA 20:24 - Season II

Kembra Pfahler, The Manual of Action

8 April - 30 June

‘Everyone can be an artist’ — a call that  encapsulates the potential for each human being to embrace creativity, granting agency over one’s own life and enabling individuals to become creators rather than mere subjects to disempowering routines and roles. However, this holistic possibility is often obscured by a pervasive sense of discouragement fostered by societal pressures, historical dystopia, and the perception of art as confined to museums, leisure time, or exclusive domains. The vision that ‘everyone can be an artist’ inherently involves a flight of imagination challenging the ontological separation between life and art, reinstating the fundamental participation of the latter in every aspect of existence, much like the unity between humanity and nature.

Kembra Pfahler has always been one step ahead or one step outside. Since her first performances in the 80s in New York, the artist’ life practice has been to embody, dismantle, and reconstruct where divisions existed, echoing Louise Bourgeois’s sentiment of art as restoration: ‘The idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life and make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole’. Envisioned in antithesis to ‘the destructive idea of an artist’s life’, The Manual of Action is a an educational offering, a space for (re)action in which self-expression coincides with freedom rather than ‘free time’. In the wake of worldwide censorship — impacting voices, bodies, and ideas — the urgency to restore expression is paramount for fostering a society at whose core lies creativity instead of capitalism’s de-humanizing logic. 

‘Action!’: a word catalyzing cinematic hyper-performance, enabling space, time and identity to become flexible materials that can be sculpted, echoing Joseph Beuys’s ‘Social Sculpture’ — his proposal of a collective practice re-affirming human beings as artists. ‘Aktion’, the core of Viennese Actionism, who introduced to the art world the body as a painting surface and the ultimate site for ‘revolution’ against war and conservative propaganda. Yet, Pfahler’s activism has a fundamental (future) feminist core: the affirmation of agency on the naked body — culminating in her celebrated butt prints — takes distance from the passive treatment endured by the female figures in Yves Klein’s celebrated ‘Monotone Symphony’ or the debasement depicted in Hermann Nitsch’s “Degradation of a Female Body, Degradation of a Venus”, advocating for a future in which ‘everyone participates’.  

The Manual of Action emancipates the screen from its inscribed ‘male gaze’ to critically approach the manipulation of visual pleasure operated by mass media. While writing, erasing, and overwriting the lessons’ titles, in a sublime representation of time’s deployment, Pfahler appears with her legendary aesthetics: the body painted in light blue, her teeth blackened, and the long hair covered by a vaporous black wig. For decades, women have been portrayed on screens in sensual attire alongside elegant men in teaching roles. Through The Manual of Action, Pfahler reaffirms everyone’s potential to be an artist and a teacher by sharing the life philosophies that liberated her, enabling others to find freedom and help others in their turn. Igniting an infinite domino effect, the 12-week programme progressively dismantles barriers and creates an open space—a blank page upon which to <<break free>>

Screen locations

LONDON (20:24 BST)

Every evening at 20:24 BST on London’s iconic Piccadilly Lights

BERLIN (20:24 CET)


MILAN (20:24 CET)



The Manual of Action