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The legend of John Charles Fare (or Faré) is the story of a man who slowly destroyed his own body.

As one version of the story goes, Fare was a performance artist whose performances involved the amputation of parts of his body and their replacement with metal or plastic decorations. Between 1964 and 1968, performing across Europe and Canada, he was lobotomized and lost a thumb, two fingers, eight toes, one eye, both testicles, his right hand[1], and several patches of skin. The amputated parts were preserved in alcohol. It is also said that Fare had the amputations performed by a randomly-controlled machine and ended his career by having his head amputated.[2][3][4]

The legend was published by Tim Craig in Studio International in 1972[5]; this version of the legend was reprinted in a fanzine made in collaboration with the band Coil in 1987.[3]

Fare has been mentioned in connection with body art,[6] industrial culture,[7] and the practices of Rudolf Schwarzkogler and Bob Flanagan, and, like other performance artists, has been seen as a successor of the Christian martyrs.[8] He has also been mentioned in the Guardian in connection with the German artist Gregor Schneider[9]

Fare was impersonated during a Nocturnal Emissions[10] concert in London in 1997. Writing about the event, a British music journalist recounts: "Fare cuts an eccentric figure. He wears trousers made from zips and has a diagram of a brain tattooed onto his shaven scalp. The performance artist placed his left hand on a chopping board with the fingers spread. Fare’s assistant, Jill Orr, is partially sighted and she slammed an axe between her boyfriend’s pinkies with increasing speed. Eventually the axe severed Fare’s little finger. This was the end of the performance art element within the evening’s entertainment".[11]


  1. ^ The Myth of John Fare by Danny Devos
  2. ^ Apocalypse Culture, Adam Parfrey, Feral House, 1991, 2nd ed., pp. 95–96.
  3. ^ a b A Coil Magazine, on line, accessed 11-III-2007.
  4. ^ John Fare
  5. ^ Studio International 184, November 1972 (#949), pp. 160–161.
  6. ^ Schröder, Johannes Lothar. Identität - Überschreitung - Verwandlung. Happenings, Aktionen und Performances von bildenden Künstlern. Münster: LIT, 1990
  7. ^ Jugend Kultur Archiv - The Industrial Culture scene
  8. ^ AnyBody's Concerns 6(2003)
  9. ^ Houses of horror, Gordon Burn, The Guardian, September 22, 2004, accessed on line 11-III-2007.
  10. ^ Nocturnal Emissions Discography
  11. ^ Stewart Home in D>Tour magazine, December 1997. Cf. [1].

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