Serbian Performance : Marina Abramovic

Artist Stood Still for 6 Hours to Let People Do What They Wanted to Her Body

Serbian artist Marina Abramović performed an experiment named “The Rhythm 0” in Naples, 1974. The idea was so: She allowed all the people to do what they wanted with her body for 6 hours.

We are all homo sapiens, we are educated, educated and do not break the law and respect moral standards. On the other hand, we live in a society where treating the private space of other people is not impossible. So what would happen if in a few moments we would allow people to do what they wanted with our bodies without being condemned?

Marina Abramović stood, while the audience was free to do what he wanted with it, using 1 of the 72 items on the table: rose, feather, perfume, honey, bread, grapes, wine, scissors, scissors, metal strips and a pistol with a bullet inside.

At first people were wary; embraced and donated flowers. But when they saw that she did not react and did not protest, they started to go further. They cut off their hair, their clothes, and even their skin. People were becoming more and more aggressive.

In her first performance in Edinburgh in 1973 Abramović explored elements of ritual and gesture. Making use of twenty knives and two tape recorders, the artist played the Russian Game in which rhythmic knife jabs are aimed between the splayed fingers of one’s hand. Each time she cut herself, she would pick up a new knife from the row of twenty she had set up, and record the operation. After cutting herself twenty times, she replayed the tape, listened to the sounds, and tried to repeat the same movements, attempting to replicate the mistakes, merging past and present. She set out to explore the physical and mental limitations of the body – the pain and the sounds of the stabbing; the double sounds from the history and the replication. With this piece, Abramović began to consider the state of consciousness of the performer. “Once you enter into the performance state you can push your body to do things you absolutely could never normally do.

In this performance, Abramović sought to re-evoke the energy of extreme bodily pain, using a large petroleum-drenched star, which the artist lit on fire at the start of the performance. Standing outside the star, Abramović cut her nails, toenails, and hair. When finished with each, she threw the clippings into the flames, creating a burst of light each time. Burning the communist five-pointed star represented a physical and mental purification, while also addressing the political traditions of her past. In the final act of purification, Abramović leapt across the flames, propelling herself into the center of the large star. Due to the light and smoke given off by the fire, the observing audience did not realize that, once inside the star, the artist had lost consciousness from lack of oxygen. Some members of the audience realized what had occurred only when the flames came very near to her body and she remained inert. A doctor and several members of the audience intervened and extricated her from the star.

Abramović later commented upon this experience: “I was very angry because I understood there is a physical limit. When you lose consciousness you can’t be present, you can’t perform.