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One of the very best art blogs around is Click Opera, written by Nick Currie, better known as the musician Momus. It's passionate, idiosycratic and usually brilliantly argued. If you want to know why, read the recent post "Is live art dead", a furious swipe at Ekow Eshun for closing the ICA's live art department.

One of the very best art blogs around is Click Opera, written by Nick Currie, better known as the musician Momus. It's passionate, idiosycratic and usually brilliantly argued. If you want to know why, read the recent post "Is live art dead", a furious swipe at Ekow Eshun for closing the ICA's live art department.

It's not just closing the department that has provoked this reaction; this declaration by Ekow also got backs up: "It's my consideration that, in the main, the art form lacks depth and cultural urgency," he said in a statement.

"On what planet has this man been residing for the last few years?" writes Lyn Gardner in her blog.

Where has he been? Obviously not in the same places as me. Quite simply, we've been experiencing an unprecedented wave of activity in live art practice that is attracting both a new generation of exciting artists and new audiences. The evidence is all around us in the huge success of the Spill festival (which will be back next spring)  and in the way live art is steadily infiltrating our main stages - whether it is Gob Squad at Soho, Ursula Martinez, Duckie, Lone Twin and Robert Pacitti at the Barbican or even Katie Mitchell's experiments at the National.

To which Currie, after singling out a number of performers who exploit the boundaries between choreography, theatre and art like Pina Bausch for praise, adds his own ringing views:

While all sorts of things (records, books, films) may be in trouble because they're ubiquitous and digital, live performance has a strong future, because people still want to leave their computers from time to time and interact in physical space, experiencing something ephemeral, something that can't be archived, a fleeting and unique communal event. Live art that deals with the body -- in this age of disembodiment -- is all the more relevant. That's not to say Live Art doesn't have clichés all its own, especially body clichés. Nakedness is one, though I guess as long as it's taboo elsewhere it's going to be relevant in live art. I'm not a big fan of the Freak Show Self-Injury School of Franko B and Ron Athey, whose acts consist of bleeding themselves or attaching weights to their balls. Sure, I get it: church, circus, hospital, they're all connected. Pain can be a drug, and watching someone else suffer is never dull. But, you know, do I have to?

For anyone who, like Currie, lived through the darker cultural days of the 1980s in London post-GLC, the ICA was an extraordinary beacon of light in a city largely devoid of experimental space. It was particularly energised by becoming a venue for live performance from the 70s onwards. At the time, it seemed radical to have an art venue where bands could play. The music influenced the art; the art influenced the musicians, and bands like COUM/Throbbing Gristle who played there in 1976 were among those who laid the foundations of the Live Art movement. Oh, and Momus played there too.

(Not to mention, of course, the patron saint of Art & Ecology, and pioneer of Live Art Joseph Beuys, who created notable performance-based work there in the 70s.)

But in the last decade, outshone by more dynamic, versatile spaces, it's been struggling to shake off the public perception that it's not relevant any more. Nought to Sixty, the quickly rotating series of new work, has been a very admirable attempt to force itself into a kind of urgency. It seems a little unfair that the general reaction to it has been that the series been a bit of a mixed bag, as that's what you'd expect from a thread that includes so much new stuff*.

But the sad fact is that in this decade the ICA has become more famous for the pronouncements of its leadership than the art it gives a voice to. With that in mind it's worth saying that Ekow's statement about Live Art is still nothing compared to the former chairman Ivan Massow's spectacular declaration in 2002 that modern art was "pretentious, self-indulgent, craftless tat" and "the product of over-indulged, middle-class, bloated egos who patronise real people with fake understanding".

Thanks to codepope for the photo of Momus at the ICA in 2003

*Dave Briggs suggests bloggers who're in danger of sounding like haughty editorial writers use the word "stuff" occasionally

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