Archive of the internationally renowned visual artist, curator and teacher, Franko B. The archive consists of material in a variety of formats relating to 30 years of Franko B’s performances, exhibitions, screenings, visual art, collaborations and his work as a curator, lecturer and mentor. The documentation includes video and audio recordings, photographic stills, publicity material, published material, interview transcripts, contractual agreements, correspondence and personal ephemera. The collection also contains approximately 40 objects that include artworks and objects that featured in Franko B’s performances or installations, including several items and garments fashioned from the remains of bloodied canvas from performances.
Franko B Archive
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Born in Milan, Italy in 1960 but UK-based, Franko B rose to prominence in the 1990s due to his extraordinary body-based performances that often involved blood-letting, performing at the ICA, London, throughout the UK and internationally.
Franko B studied art between 1986-1991, first attending Camberwell Art College 1986-1987 to complete a Foundation Art course. Franko then gained a place on a degree course at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 1987. Franko soon progressed from painting, sculpture and ceramics to photography and video works, becoming the only student in his year to graduate with a BA in Mixed Media rather than Fine Art in 1990. After Chelsea, Franko studied as a postgraduate student at Byam Shaw School of Art between 1990-1991.
Franko's early performances for camera progressed to performances for live audiences at club nights, including FIST and Torture Garden. These performances gradually led to invitations to perform at arts institutions, with Lois Keidan first inviting Franko to perform, Mama I Can't Sing at the ICA in Nov 1995. Franko's blood-based performances continued up until 2006, with performances of I'm Not Your Babe, I Miss You, Oh Lover Boy and Still Life involving bleeding via cannulas inserted by a medical professional. One-to-one encounters has also formed part of Franko's performances, starting with Aktion 398 performed between 1998-2002. In 2006, formalising his departure from blood-based performances, Franko performed Don't Leave Me This Way, a collaboration with lighting designer, Kamal Ackerie. Franko's more recent performances including I'm Thinking of You, Because of Love and Milk & Blood.
Creating work across performance, video, photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media for the last 30 years, Franko B continues to earn international acclaim for his artistic practice. He is currently Professor of Sculpture at l'Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino. His work is the subject of four monographs: 'Franko B' (Black Dog Publishing, London, 1998), 'Oh Lover Boy', (Black Dog Publishing, London, 2000), 'Blinded by Love' (Damiani Editore, Bologna, 2006) and 'I Still Love' (Motta/Il Sole 24 Ore, Milan, 2010). Franko's other publications include his autobiography 'Because of Love: Franko B’s Story' (Live Art Development Agency, London, 2018) and a monograph of his photographic project 'Still Life' (Black Dog Publishing, London, 2003).
The Franko B archive was repackaged, catalogued and conserved as part of the Wellcome Trust funded project, 'Challenging Archives: Delivering research access, public engagement and curatorial care of the Franko B archive' in 2018-2020.
Franko's archive is arranged into eleven series:
FB/1: Visual Art Documentation
FB/4: Teaching and Research
FB/5: As Curator
FB/6: As Musician
FB/7: Collaborations and Other Artists
FB/8: Publications and Media
FB/9: Artwork and Objects
Before donating his archive to the Theatre Collection in 2008, attempts were made by Franko to catalogue the archive at his studio, where it was original stored, with the help of an assistant, funded by the Live Art Development Agency (LADA). A database was produced using FileMaker Pro and reference numbers were assigned to material. These original reference numbers, where found, are listed in the 'Alt Ref No' field. An original copy of the database has been accessioned as part of the archive (see FB/11/2/5).
Material was originally kept in plastic folders/wallets by original reference number. The folders have been disposed of, but information written on them - generally original reference and title - is recorded at item/file level description.
Any original folder names for digital files has been recorded in 'Alt Ref No' field and any subsequent folders are noted in 'Description'. Any CD/DVDs with digital titles has been recorded in 'Title' field.
All magnetic tape was digitised and where copies were found, the best digital copy was retained. Duplicates have been identified and cross-referenced at item level. For all audiovisual material, a shot list is noted in 'Description', compiled by Nigel Bryant, AV Digitisation Officer. Digital and digitised content is accessible at the Theatre Collection, but due to copyright restrictions this material is not available to access online.
Although the collection includes a 'Personal' series and series which distinguish the contexts in which Franko's work is represented, for example 'Performance' and 'Exhibitions', the interconnected nature of Franko's personal and professional life means this is also reflected in the material. Material catalogued as part of the 'Personal' series includes audiovisual material filmed by Franko or photographic stills taken by Franko as part of documenting his personal life, travels and friends. It is catalogued as 'Personal' to distinguish the material from 'Visual Art Documentation', however in many cases this material can also feature in Franko's works of visual art and videoworks. This nuance adds increased complexity to ascertaining rights holders for some audiovisual material within the collection, for example in the case of videoworks which feature compilations of multiple clips and/or stills.
Due to the nature of Franko B's performances and visual art, nudity features throughout the collection.
FB/12 is an additional series, which contains outputs from the archival process, the writers-in-residence and programme of public events as part of the Wellcome trust funded project 'Challenging Archives: Delivering research access, public engagement and the curatorial care of the Franko B archive' (2018-2020). Although currently catalogued under FB reference, it will eventually be placed under the main TC collections.
The Data Protection Act (1998) and General Data Protection Regulation (2018) may apply to some records. Further information about access conditions and closure periods are detailed in individual file or item level descriptions, where applicable.
Conditions Governing Use
Franko B to retain copyright in his lifetime.
Collection collated and kept by Franko B at Toynbee Studios, London until donated to the University of Bristol Theatre Collection in Feb 2008
Ongoing - futher accruals are expected approx one box per annum