Monday, September 26, 2011

Marina Abramović - Rhythm 0 (1974)

(Photos from

After I had taken an Art History class at my College, I began to pay more detailed attention to the impact and meaning visual art can produce.

I had spent the past half-hour trying to put into word how I feel about a renowned performance artist by the name of Marina Abramović and her Rhythm 0, 1974 piece.
Listening to this description and an excerpt of her own experiences left me speechless, and dumfounded.

"To test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience, Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her.

Abramović had placed upon a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions.

Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained impassive) people began to act more aggressively. As Abramović described it later:

“What I learned was that... if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” ... “I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation."
What the average person would do to a stranger when they are given absolute power is chilling. It makes you wonder if by chance that you may become helpless, if people would lend a hand, or perhaps a gun instead.

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