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Abramovich’s experiment

Abramovich's experimentAbramovich’s experiment

In the 70s, the Serbian artist Marina Abramovich conducted an experiment: she stood still in one of the exhibition centers, with various objects lying next to her – from a hammer and a gun to watercolor colors.

At the same time, people could take any of these items and do whatever they wanted with Marina.

An undeniable authority in the world of modern art, Marina Abramovich is called the grandmother of performance art.

His performances continue to be discussed decades later.

One of his most famous events was called “Ritmo 0” and was organized in 1974 in Naples.

The idea for the rhythm 0 performance was very simple: Abramovich had to sit still for six hours while the people who came to see her could do whatever they wanted with her using any of the 72 objects she could and put it on the table next to me.Abramovich's experiment

Abramovich was standing in the center of the room with a plaque on his chest that said: “Instructions: there are 72 objects on the table that you can use to your liking.”

Performance. They are an object.

I take full responsibility during this time. Duration: 6 hours (20:00 – 2:00).

On the table were “objects for pleasure” and “objects to be destroyed”.

Flowers and feathers were among the harmless objects.

Among the dangerous are a knife, razor blades and a loaded gun .

At first, the audience was shy, looked at her, gave her roses and kissed her.

But then divided, painted and even cut.

Someone wrapped it around a wasp.

Someone raised their hands.

A man used a blade to cut her neck.

The audience changed the position of the artist’s body.

Some people attacked different objects on him.

Some men were stripping and licking her.

And they accompanied their actions with laughter.

The show was interrupted by the security of the building when one of the visitors took a gun.

At the third hour they cut off all her clothes with blades.

At the fourth hour they began to examine his skin with the same blades.

She has been subjected to all kinds of harassment.

Someone point a gun at her.

She was so focused on performance that she couldn’t resist anything.

Abramovich’s own impressions of what people were doing to her were even more horrible.

Abramovich's experiment

The artist recalls that during Abramovich’s experiment:

“At first, the audience really wanted to play with me. Then they became more and more aggressive, it was six hours of pure horror. They cut my hair, stuck thorns of pink into my body, cut the skin of my neck and then put a patch on my wound.

After six hours of performance, I went naked to the audience with tears in my eyes, then they literally ran out of the room, when they realized that I had “revived” – I stopped being their toy and they started handling my own body.

I remember when I arrived at the hotel that evening and looked in the mirror, I found a lock of gray hair…

This work reveals something terrible about humanity.

It shows how quickly a person can hurt you under the right circumstances. It shows how easy it is to defame a person who does not react, who does not protect himself.

It shows that, given the appropriate circumstances, most “normal” people can obviously become very violent…”

The most surprising thing happens at the end of the performance, when the artist returns to being a person and those present can no longer look into her eyes. Everyone runs away, they do not want to confront her.

It must be said that on the whole work there are also conflicting statements: it is said that two groups were created, one of “aggressors” and another “to protect” the artist.

When the weapon was pointed at her, it is said that a fight had even broken out.

Abramovich's experiment

Experiment area

In a room of the gallery various objects had been placed on a table such as a rose, bread, a perfume, a bottle of wine, a glass, chains and scissors: some could be instruments of pleasure, others of pain and there was also a gun with a bullet, a possible object of death.

Together with the objects were placed on the table the instructions:

  • There are 72 items on the table that can be used on me the way you want
  • I am the object
  • I take complete responsibility for what I do
  • Duration: 6 hours (from 20:00 to 2:00)

Abramović declared that the public could kill her, she placed herself as an object in the hands of the people present, who could decide how and whether to interact with her.

Throughout the performance the artist stood passively still, accepting without opposing anything that was done to her.

List of objects available during the experiment:

  • Water
  • Needle
  • Alcohol
  • Axe
  • Stick
  • Bandage
  • Glass
  • Bell
  • Candle
  • Hat
  • Coat
  • Irons
  • Band-aid
  • Kitchen knife
  • Pocket knife
  • Cotton
  • Spoon
  • Sweet
  • Handkerchief
  • Matches
  • Wire
  • Clubs
  • Flute
  • Blank sheet of paper
  • Scissors
  • Fork
  • Hairpin
  • Whip
  • Newspaper
  • Ball
  • Book
  • Polaroid Camera
  • Hammer
  • Medal
  • Apple
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Lamb bone
  • Bread
  • Pen
  • Plume
  • Comb
  • Piece of wood
  • Plate
  • Gun
  • Perfume
  • Projectile
  • Metal tip
  • Rosemary branch
  • Rose
  • Lipstick
  • Salt
  • Soap
  • Chisel
  • Shoes
  • Scarf
  • Chair
  • Saw
  • Brush
  • Mirror
  • Hatpin
  • Leather strings
  • Metal pipe
  • Nails
  • Grape
  • White paint
  • Blue paint
  • Red paint
  • Wine
  • Sulfur
  • Sugar

“What I’ve learned is that if you rely on and abandon yourself to the public, they can kill you. I felt really violated, someone stuck the thorns of the rose in my stomach. An aggressive atmosphere has been created. After six hours (as planned), I got up and started walking towards people. Everyone ran away to escape the actual confrontation. It was the heaviest play I’ve ever done, because I was totally out of control.” (Marina Abramović)

Conclusions

Marina Abramovich’s experiments try to explore the relationship between the artist and the public, beyond the limits of the human body and mind, but this time the result really brought out a gruesome aspect of the human being.

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 in this series; the most important and the most experimental of all. It was intended to test social limits and free will.

Both the artist and the viewers would never have imagined the outcome of this experiment. Let’s see what it is.

Abramovich’s experiment shows how man has a dark side, deeply dark in the absence of social limits.

As a performance by Marina Abdamović he showed that the human being is by nature cruel and violent.

What happened must lead to a reflection on:

  • freedom
  • responsibility
  • authorities and
  • respect.

To what extent do you let yourself be carried away by your personal desires and interests?

What can you get to do when you feel you have authority and have no limits?

Marina Abramović’s experiment showed how easy it can be for some people to show violent conduct towards the helpless.

The artist was humiliated and dehumanized by her viewers.

Now we must not be surprised but know that there is this dark side from which we must defend ourselves.

“I knew I was taking a risk. I was willing to die during the performance.” (Marina Abramović)

At the end of the performance she stated that the results had taken her by surprise and that leaving control in the hands of the public can degenerate into dangerous experiences to the point of there being a chance of dying.

“This work brings out a shocking reality: it shows how easy it is for someone to hurt the other if the circumstances are favorable. You can see how someone who reacts is totally dehumanized. ‘Normal’ people can become violent if they are given the way.” (Marina Abramović)

Stay Tuned!

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Written by Andrea

Instructor and enthusiast of Self Defence and Fight Sport.

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