In 21st-century England, the running footmen and their livery have become performance art, practised by people such as James Steventon,
In the twenty-first century, the running footmen have been noticed as a possible art form. British artist James Steventon offers what he describes as “running based performance”.
Athletic bodies have long been represented in figurative art, but sustained performative explorations of the act and action of running are a more recent phenomenon.
We saw some hope in the figure of the boundary-crossing running-messenger epitomised by James Steventon.
Others tap into drawing’s ability to offer a more immediate, less filtered connection between mind and action, allowing for something akin to a stream of consciousness to spread across the page. James Steventon’s 13 Hours with Weighted Vest (BST) (2017) takes this concept a stage further; the piece being the end result of a private endurance-based performance in which the artist ‘drew’ the patterns of his breathing whilst wearing a weighted vest (mixing drawing as action and noun).
The aerobic heart rate of the runner James Steventon's effort determined the characteristics of the art-run, thus, as the artist stated, somehow making “use of the heart as a perceptual organ.”
Already we are encountering several questionings of the identity of the art object. Art has been reframed as ... a refreshing run in the country (but one in which some kind of metaphoric shift is taking place).
For Steventon there is no real separation of ends and means. There is instead a relationship which is circular and ongoing. Traditionally artist and audience are divided; they are Liverpool and Everton. In Steventon’s interpretation, manifestation and response, they are United.
As an Artist, James Steventon is an intelligent and articulate presence whose sceptical and questioning work highlights the debate within himself as to how to set about making Art he can believe in.