Tom Isaacs (b. 1985, Oxford, UK) is a Sydney-based performance artist and sculptor. In 2008, he completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) at Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney. Isaacs returned to SCA in 2015, enrolling in a PhD researching the connection between ritual and body art. His artistic practice is an exploration of the relationship between art and catharsis, informed by his research into body art, psychoanalytical theory and religious or spiritual traditions.
Much of his work embodies a desire for cathartic release at the same time as it remains skeptical of any such experience actually taking place. Isaacs mixes personal symbols with archetypal imagery drawn from art history, psychoanalysis and religious or spiritual traditions to make work that is at once intensely personal and which, at the same time, aims to address a more general view of the human condition.
In his more recent work, Isaacs’ has been influenced by his study of ritual, creating performances which use death as a metaphor for our current condition as well as a vehicle for a potential rebirth to new life. These works are also influenced by Sigmund Freud’s theory of the ‘Death Instinct’ and by the French philosopher Georges Bataille’s theory of ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’.
Recent performances include: Can these bones live?, 107 Projects, Redfern 2016; Night Soil, Scratch Art Space, Marrickville 2016; Jacob’s Ladder, Bigci, Bilpin 2016. Isaacs has also been invited to perform live at a number of art events in recent years, including: ‘Free Fall’, Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst 2014 and 2011; ‘Cementa13’, Kandos 2013; ‘Hungry For Art’, Ryde 2013.
Isaacs is a frequent contributor to base-metal, “a platform for research, dialogue, exchange, performance” founded by Julie Vulcan in 2014. He has participated in a number of Intercessions events, as well as a short-term residency at the BigCi, Bilpin 2016 and ‘Same Difference: Equinox to Equinox’ 2016 – a global performance event organised by Bbeyond.