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Rhythm 0
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Marina Abramović is one crazy brave artist, and this performance piece Rhythym 0 proves what many of us at Sartle already knew: People suck.

In Rythym 0, Abramović let random gallery goers do anything they wanted to her. No, literally. She laid out 72 different items the audience could use on her. On the spectrum between things you might like to things that might kill you, there was a feather (that’s nice), olive oil, honey, a pen, scissors, a whip, an axe…and a loaded pistol. Either she had a lot more faith in humanity than I do, or she’s just got bigger cajones. Probably a bit of both, considering she said, “My performance Rhythm 0 was a piece I was ready to die for.” And she almost did.

How did it end, you ask? Did people respect her as a human being performing an art piece in a public place? Did they tickle her with a feather? …Or did they start to act like some bizarre, sadistic hive mind? Surprise, surprise! A scary mob mentality took hold and people became more and more aggressive in their actions towards her. Abramović reminisces about the delightful evening, “I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head.”

Eventually they had to stop because it got so out of hand. But only after she endured 6 hours of abuse. After her 6 hours were up, she got up and began walking towards the audience, who promptly RAN away from her to avoid confronting the human they’d been manhandling. Abramović is clearly one tough chick. They better run!

Since this is a performance piece that happened in the '70s, what we’re looking at now is the photographic evidence of all that creepiness. Like this perv, now immortalized at the Guggenheim for his “participation," aka pawing at Abramovic's breasts. Really one for the scrapbook. There’s something so haunting about the emotions on her face in this picture. All at once she seems resigned to what’s happening, determined to keep performing, sad and perhaps scared. I wonder though if Abramović, as a feminist artist who thinks a lot about the body, had an inkling of what was going to go down. Did it prove something she anticipated? That people will always be tempted to do the wrong thing? For me, it only further proves that this world is a seriously messed up place. 

Check out an interview with Complex or Abromavić’s AMA on Reddit to get more insights. Highlights include theories that she is a vampire, and her confession that the experience of Rhythm 0 was so traumatic, it turned a patch of her hair white. Faith in humanity not restored.

 

 

 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Rhythm 0

Rhythm 0 (1974) was a six-hour work of performance art by Yugoslav artist Marina Abramović in Studio Morra, Naples. The work involved Abramović standing still while the audience was invited to do to her whatever they wished, using one of 72 objects she had placed on a table. These included a rose, feather, perfume, honey, bread, grapes, wine, scissors, a scalpel, nails, a metal bar, and a gun loaded with one bullet.

There were no separate stages. Abramović and the visitors stood in the same space, making it clear that the latter were part of the work. The purpose of the piece, she said, was to find out how far the public would go: "What is the public about and what are they going to do in this kind of situation?"

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Rhythm 0.