historyofartdaily: Marina Abramović, Rhythm 0…


Marina Abramović, Rhythm 0, 1974, photography, Guggenheim Museum

Marina Abramović is one of the most famous champions and pioneers of performance as an art form. During her whole career, she has used her body as both her subject and medium. In the 1970s, the only traces left by Abramović’s ephemeral performances were black-and-white pictures.

In her performance Rhythm 0 (1974), Abramović invited spectators to do whatever they wanted to her using the 72 objects she provided: a rose, perfume, a pair of scissors, chains, an axe, a pistol… According to Abramović, the piece’s purpose was to see how far the public would go. The performance lasted 6 hours, until it finally came to its heart-wrenching conclusion: an end had to be put to it when audience members put the artist’s life in danger.

According to critic Thomas McEvilley, “It began tamely. Someone turned her around. (…) Someone thrust her arms into the air. In the third hour all her clothes were cut from her with razor blades. In the fourth hour the same blades began to explore her skin. Her throat was slashed so someone could suck her blood. Various (…) sexual assaults were carried out on her body… When a loaded gun was thrust to Marina’s head and her own finger was being worked around the trigger, a fight broke out between the audience factions.

Although the self-declared “grandmother of performance art” has never identified herself as a feminist (she said she rejected the label because “it puts you in a category and…an artist has no gender”), many critics have argued that Abramović’s work carries strong feminist themes. In fact, her performances deal with submission, violence, sexuality, beauty standards, and the female body. The fact alone that she became an established name in her field makes her a heroine for many female artists. 

Nancy Spector, Guggenheim Museum ;
Chris Johnston, Disobedient Theatre: Alternative Ways to Inspire, Animate and Play, p. 67 ;
Samantha Henman, “Reading Marina Abramović’s Performance Art as a Feminist Act” ;
Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy, The Guardian)

if u don’t love Marina Abramović, u r wrong