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Lee Webster Re-Performs Yves Klein’s ‘Leap Into The Void’

Today anyone who paints space must actually go into space to paint, but he must go there without any faking, and neither in an aeroplane, a parachute, or a rocket: he must go there by his own means, by an autonomous, individual force.--Yves Klein, 1961

Though I've leapt from my own roof now, my breath still catches each time seeing Yves Klein's body in suspended animation over a deserted Paris street in Saut Dans La Vide (Leap Into the Void). Across decades of Photoshop desensitization, the work maintains its visceral sense of danger and pure magic. In Klein's estimation this act was a statement against the hubris of space exploration; a belief that unfettered bodily movement through The Void should be mastered before launching ourselves into other realms.

What I saw as missing from Klein's exploration of the sublime was the admittance of trepidation, of fear, of challenge. Ultimately the photomontage, which edits out the group of men holding a tarpaulin poised to catch the briefly soaring Klein, asserts a different kind of hubris. In my reperformance I was interested in the all the misgivings leading up to a leap, of course the beautiful leap into the void, and the cheering of one's friends once you've made it.

Original Photo:

Leap into the Void, 1960
Yves Klein (French, 1928–1962), photographed by Harry Shunk (German, 1924–2006)
and Janos Kender (Hungarian, 1937–1983)
Gelatin silver print; 10 3/16 x 7 7/8 in. (25.9 x 20 cm)

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Lee Webster was born in Philadelphia, PA and currently lives and works in Austin, TX. Her practice incorporates film, video, installation and public projects. Her work has been shown at Art House at the Jones Center, Sofa Gallery, Domy Books, and Co-lab in Austin, Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and Danger Danger Gallery in Philadelphia. Her films have been included in screenings at Box 13 in Houston, Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival, Women and Their Work, as part of a special screening for the Texas Biennial and as part of the Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX. Her work as a video designer for theater has won recognition by the Austin Critics Table. She is a working artist, teacher and a founding member of the video art collective, Austin Video Bee.