Marina Abramović is a Yugoslavian-born performance artist, known for her boundary-shattering, provoking and experimental performances where she often explore the nature of the audience, the limitations of body and mind, and the willpower of the human being.
This photography was taken right after her “Rhythm 0” performance in 1974, where she further tested the limits of the relationship between performer and audience. “Rhythm 0” is arguably her most (in)famous and most talked about performance, where she assigned herself a very passive role in relationship to the audience, which were given total power to act upon her physically passive body as they pleased.
Abramovic lied down upon a table and placed 72 objects in front of her that people were allowed to use on her. Some of these were objects that would bring pleasure, while others would cause harm, or even potential death. Some of the things she put on the table was a rose, a feather, a whip, scissors, a scalpel, and a gun with one single bullet, among various other things.
Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained impassive) people began to act more aggressively. As Abramović described it later:
“What I learned was that… if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” … “I felt really violated: they cut up 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 audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation.”