About Tempting Failure

Tempting Failure ALT logo.png

Tempting Failure is London's Biennial of International Performance Art and Noise.

We showcase under-represented artwork that may interrogate risk or challenge preconceptions.

TF is invested in the support of Performance Art and Noise Art, as well as the professional development of artists at all stages of their careers and the education of all.  We showcase a programme of artwork that is usually sidelined by producers and arts venues for being logistically too difficult, unexpected, prone to censorship or perhaps deemed too 'extreme'.  We provide a high profile and professional platform, working with artists to establish a supportive environment where logistically restrictive practice can be presented in a safe and contextualised manner. 

We foreground local artists, alongside national and international practices. Never hiding behind obtuse overly academic contexts, but rather making artwork accessible, while certainly intellectual, but equally open to all.  Established as Community Interest Company in 2015, we operate as a not-for-profit and have chosen to centralise our outreach and professional development programmes as an integral part of our operation beyond the festival itself.  From half-term activities for children through to masterclasses for professional artists, programmes of talks, advice surgeries and mentoring schemes for young artists alongside our investment in support for mental health and other key groups - we proudly continue to enrich both the local and wider arts communities.  

Tempting Failure is one of the most significant artist led projects in the UK – an initiative that is committed to risk and innovation in performance and that engages with audiences who are curious about the possibilities of contemporary art.
— Lois Keidan, Director of the Live Art Development Agency

Our History

Conceived in 2011, initially as part of his PhD at University of Bristol to examine specific phenomenological concerns around body art, Tempting Failure was founded by Thomas John Bacon.  TF then subsequently expanded to become an annual event and arts organisation.  Operating annual until 2016, our direct support of artists and young producers totalled at 302 over only 5 annual events to date.  In 2018 we move forwards as biennial programme.   

The first event took place in 2012 in London, before moving to Bristol in 2013.  TF 2012 focused upon body art practices, while the second festival at The Island constructed a 13 point manifesto around failure, risk & rejection.  In this incarnation at TF 2013, the platform grew from its white-cube beginnings at ]ps[ to become an immersive site-based marathon of 9 hours into late night transgression.  Here the value of a unique environment evolved to became an important part of all future TF festivals.  The events of 2013 were also supported by a week long intensive masterclass as well as talks & performative lecturers, which would become integral to all future programmes.

Tempting Failure is a rare example of a festival that feels genuinely grown from, and owned by, an artistic community. It placed artist development at its core, with a range of opportunities for artists at every stage of their practice who, it was apparent, often find it difficult to find a home or context for their work.
— Mel Scaffold, Theatre Bristol
TF2016 - Free Community Workshop in conjunction with Matthews Yard, Xavier De Sousa and Club Soda

TF2016 - Free Community Workshop in conjunction with Matthews Yard, Xavier De Sousa and Club Soda

In 2014, with the support of Arts Council England, Tempting Failure grew in its scope and actively developed a curatorial strategy to support artists at all stages of their careers, expanding our remit to educate & mentor as well as opening our legacy archive.  TF 2014 dropped the manifesto concept and instead asked artists to respond to developing work around either risk, transgression or failure in non lateral and inventive ways.  We furthered our engagement with placing artwork in unique spaces, by locating the festival across 6 alternative locations, ranging from an Edwardian Cloakroom through to a subterranean roundabout.  While we also introduced a mentoring programme and asked select established artists to present work to challenge preconceived notions of their artwork, a given enquiry or simply reclaim a prior failure.  

The dedication, consideration, and efficiency of the team programming, producing, and managing Tempting Failure place it way beyond expectations for such a young organisation.
— Richard Hancock of, Hancock & Kelly
Tempting Failure is an ambitious and challenging festival of current performance practice, pushing at the boundaries of the possible and the impossible.
— Joseph Young, Artist Information co. & AIR Council

Like the thought-provoking art that we support, TF strives to constantly evolve and seeks to never stay complacent in our actions or curation.  So in 2015 we were commissioned by Latitude and Arts Council England to bring Performance Art to the famous music festival and we created the experience SND.  A sonic immersion that challenged the artists through a new and unique way of programming.

TF2016 Live Art Development Agency Study Day & In Utero Roundtable

TF2016 Live Art Development Agency Study Day & In Utero Roundtable

In July of 2016, we were honoured to announce that Tempting Failure was invited to become a core a member of Live Art UK, the national network of Live Art promoters. A group of national venues, promoters and facilitators - including BAC, IBT, Fierce, Lift, Buzzcut and Arnolfini - who collectively represent a range of practices and are concerned with all aspects of the development and promotion of the Live Art sector.

TF2016 saw our fifth anniversary and our return to London, where it all began.  Here we hosted 85 artists from 13 different countries in 11 locations across 5 different London boroughs. in a ground breaking fifth birthday celebration.  All of which was supported by extensive outreach initiatives in the preceding months that allowed artists to directly empower and connect with their peers and local communities.  

Extremely professional, organised, went beyond the call of duty in helping me to get certain materials for the show. Beyond helpful. One of the most exceptional experiences of working with a festival I have had in 25 years.
— Helena Goldwater

Tempting Failure commits to proposing new ways to curate each festival and further our understanding of practices by offering educational and professional development schemes to our TF Family, to artists, to audiences and to our production team.  

We commit to attempting to deliver extraordinary experiences for all, and inviting artists, academics & audiences to constantly question the liminal boundaries that surround the practices that we celebrate.  

I am very surprised by the commitment of TF with disability as social and artistic questioning. One of the rare experiences in my process as a disabled artist.
— Kamil Guenatri
TF2016 - Soundhoppers Free Community Workshop

TF2016 - Soundhoppers Free Community Workshop

Tempting Failure is a CIC.  This means we are a legally registered non profit company in the UK.  We therefore rely on your generosity to help us provide opportunities for our paid programmed artists, as well as our educational and professional development programmes.  Even the logistics of running a website and keeping our archives of photography, noise and video, online and free require support.  So if you have the money and wish to make a donation, be that £1 or £100 then please do help us continue to do what we do.  Thank you so much.  

To contact Tempting Failure please use the form below: 

Name *

Tempting Failure CIC - Company Number: 9569856

Registered address (not for correspondence): Tempting Failure CIC, Winkley Studios, 7 Winkley Street, London, England, E2 6PY