Endurance art is an artistic expression through acts of physical pain, trauma, survival or deprivation. Roots can be found in religious asceticism which links physical torture to a way of spiritual transformation.[1]

One of the earliest cases of endurance art occurred in the early fifth century when Saint Simeon Stylites lived atop a pillar for 37 years. Simeon despaired of the ever increasing number of people who frequently came to him for prayers and advice, leaving him little if any time for his private austerities. Simeon discovered a pillar which had survived amongst ruins, formed a small platform at the top, and upon this determined to live out his life.

Contemporary endurance artists include Chris Burden, Khoo Swee Chiow and American magician David Blaine.[2]

Endurance artists

In popular culture


  1. Two types of sacred: 1970s endurance art today, C: International Contemporary Art, 2005-06-22
  2. He'll stay awake the longest ever, New York Post, 2007-12-05

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