The Perfect Death
Friday, February 22, 12:00AM (late Thursday night)
@ Will Brown

Larry Rinder .... James Elliott
Emi Takahara .... Beau Takahara
Will Brown .... Berkeley Art Museum

In conjunction with The Ghost of James Lee Byars: A Retrospective, Will Brown is pleased to re-present The Perfect Death, a James Lee Byars action originally performed at the stroke of midnight on February 22, 1987 in the atrium of the Berkeley Art Museum.

The Perfect Death will take place 25 years to the night after the original performance.

Byars most often placed himself at the center of his now-fabled works. The Perfect Death, however, was an unusual play-like collaboration with former BAM Director, James Elliott, and long-time Bay Area arts enthusiast Beau Takahara. At midnight, in oversized gold suit and black top hat, Elliott walked into the center of the museum, laid down on a large rectangle of painted gold, and waited. After several minutes, and when instructed by Byars, Beau yelled the letter "Q!" to signify the end of the performance. Elliott slowly rose and left the building.

"Q," or "Question," was Byars' guiding philosophy and methodology for many years, forming the backbone of countless works across performance, sculpture, and publishing. Death—specifically his own—was one of his preoccupying questions.

Will Brown is humbled and excited to present current BAM Director Larry Rinder in the role of former BAM Director James Elliott. And at Beau's excellent suggestion, her daughter, Emi, will play her role.

Beau—chosen as the hollerer on account of her high-pitched voice—told us she would never forget the performance, in part because it took place on her birthday. In another act of historical echo, please join us for a festive après-morte birthday celebration for Beau that evening.

Original program notes:


1. which questions have disappeared?
2. i can repeat the question but am i bright enough to ask it?
3. if you ask for something that doesn't exist do you deserve it on the intelligence of the request?

jlb berkeley 1978