Marina Abramović is a Serbian artist known as the godmother of the performing arts. His experiments seek to explore the relationship between the artist and the public, beyond the limits of the human body and mind.
At the beginning of her career, Marina Abramović understood that painting was not enough for her to express her feelings and chose to transform her body into a means to express everything she felt and lived within herself.
Abramović’s most important artistic assemblages were Rhythm (rhythm), between 1973 and 1974. According to the artist, the words that best described these performances were sound and time, consciousness and unconsciousness.
Rhythm 0 was the last performance of this series; the most important and the most experimental of all. It was intended to test social limitations and free will. Both the artist and the spectators would never have imagined the outcome of this experiment. Let’s see what it is.
What the experiment consisted of Marina Abramovi æ ?
Abramović’s experimental performance required the artist to remain completely motionless for 6 hours, starting at 8 in the evening and until 2 in the morning. It was not possible to stop the show for any reason.
A table full of objects had been set up beside him, 72 in total. Among these was a wide variety of utensils for giving pleasure or for inflicting pain. For example, among the objects of pleasure stood out flowers, a rose, a soap, a feather, a hair clip and a handkerchief. Among the objects to inflict pain, however, were a hammer, a pair of scissors, a knife, a whip and a pistol.
The only rule for the spectators was that they use the objects on her as they saw fit. Marina Abramović took full responsibility for everything that could happen during the performance.
The main purpose he wanted to achieve with this performance was to answer the following question: what would the audience do in a situation where they had total freedom?
What was the outcome of Marina Abramović’s experiment ?
Marina Abramović’s experience was initially quiet, but rather intense towards the end. During the first three hours, nothing particularly troubling happened. Indeed, all the spectators had been very respectful and friendly. One of them even gave her a kiss and left roses on the table.
Everything gradually began to change over the last three hours. The spectators became unpredictable and even violent. A man cut her neck. Another wrote end on her forehead with a lipstick. With scissors they also cut the clothes she was wearing, among the various types of harassment.
However, the limit was reached when one of the spectators loaded the gun, pointing it at Marina. At that moment, the audience split in two: those who defended it and those who wanted to continue with the harassment. This prompted the museum guards to throw the weapon out the window, interfering with the development of the performance.
At the end of the six-hour show, Marina Abramović began to move and tried to get closer to her spectators, but they all ran away from the hall for fear of her possible reactions. Marina had gone from a passive subject to an active subject, able to respond to the harassment suffered.
Concluding reflections on the experiment
In a sense, this experiment served to reveal the dark face of the human psyche in the absence of social limits. What happened leads us to reflect on freedom, responsibility, authority and respect. To what extent do we allow ourselves to be carried away by our personal desires and interests? What can we get to do when we feel we have the authority and have no limits?
Marina Abramović’s experiment showed how easy it can be for some people to show violent behavior towards the defenseless. The artist was humiliated and dehumanized by her viewers.
He knew very well that he would take a risk. She even confessed that she was willing to die during the performance. At the conclusion of the performance she declared that the results had taken her by surprise and that leaving the control in the hands of the public can degenerate into dangerous experiences to the point of being able to die.