Marina Abramović – “Rhythm 0”

Marina Abramović – “Rhythm 0”

Marina Abramovićshowed the world what the art can and con not do:

The performer Marina Abramovićis one of the most known artists of “Performance art”, that kind of art that does not necessarily express itself through an artifact, but rather through the artist’s body, which acts in a specific context.

The artist, born in Belgrade in 1946, has revolutionized the concept of art, building and exploring a direct relationship with the public, in a marriage in which the artist is the art itself and the public is the main engine.

In the search for the various paths on which this type of relationship can go, Abramovićhas made available her body, understood not only as a physical body, but as her being a person.

She has gone a long way with her performances, most notably in “Rhythm 0”, in 1974.

This six-hour performance took place at the Studio Morra in Naples and moved the bar of what art can or cannot allow much further.

In the room where the performance would take place, the audience found a table with 72 objects and a single instruction:

“There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired”.

The objects were of various kinds, some of them could give pleasant sensations, like the rose and the feathers, others could hurt or even kill, among them there were a whip, razor blades, a knife and a pistol.

The decision of how to interact with the artist through the available objects was all in the hands of the audience.

The aim was to understand how far the performance guests would go.

At the beginning the interactions were very calm; the spectators caressed the artist with the rose, kissed her, put photographs in her hand; but going on and getting more and more familiar with the environment, they became more violent: they moved in  around her, put her on a table, cut her clothes with scissors and left her naked.

She was injured with razor blades and people licked her blood.

When a gun with inserted bullet was pointed at her throat and fingers pulled on the trigger, the performance was stopped because it became too dangerous and because there was a tension between some who tried to defend her.

Commenting on the outcome of the event, Abramović said that during the performance she had put herself in the object state, like a puppet, so people felt free to do what they wanted.

But once the performance was over and she was back to Marina Abramović, a human being, all the audience quickly left because they could not stand comparison with her as a person, or maybe because at that moment they became aware of having treated her like an object.

She said she had felt violated, psychologically, physically and sexually.

She was hurt, humiliated and a gun was pointed at her throat.

In this case the social experiment at the base of the performance showed how man, once he has learned to move in an environment and has surpassed the lines of politeness and respect, imposed by society and civil life, in short once that it has pushed beyond the surface, is able to pull down the mask and reveal an instinctive and sometimes ferocious nature.

The rules of behavior that society imposes on us have the purpose to contain the violent and feral nature of man, which, however, remains linked to the animal world and those instincts suffocated by centuries of civilization can be brought to light in a few minutes.


Words by Federica Diaz Splendiani