there are no limits?

June 3, 2010

A man I’ve never met said this to me tonight:

“Follow your dreams. Because if you follow there dreams, there will be struggles, but you will never stop being happy.”

I think that was just what I’ve needed to hear. The end of this year has been making me think a lot – think a lot about the end of next year, and where I might be by then, and all of the things that are going to happen between now and then. It’s so much easier said than done, though.

I’ve also discovered someone new who I think is strange, and horrifying, and beautiful, and thought provoking, and fearless, and shocking, and truthful. Her name is Marina Abramović. She’s a performance artist. Currently, she sits still for the entirety of the open hours of the MoMA, allowing patrons to sit across from her and see her soul.

In 2005, she re-created seven performance pieces of other artists for seven hours over the course of seven days in a work entitled Seven Easy Pieces. Read more about it here or here or definitely HERE. Some of the performances sound strange, some sound mesmerizing.

From what I’ve read, her earliest works, performed mainly in Yugoslavia, fascinate me. My favorite is entitled Rhythm 0.  From Wikipedia:

To test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience, Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her.

Abramović had placed upon a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were scissors, a knife, a whip, a condom, and, most notoriously, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions.

Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained impassive) several people began to act quite aggressively. As Abramović described it later:

“The experience I learned was that…if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed.” … “I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, my hair, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.”

Also, just like with the gun, some people tried to rape her, and were stopped only by other members of the audience.

Research her. She is fascinating. She is so free.

To test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience, Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her.

Abramović had placed upon a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were scissors, a knife, a whip, and, most notoriously, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions.

Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained impassive) several people began to act quite aggressively. As Abramović described it later:

“The experience I learned was that…if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed.” … “I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.”

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