An evening in 1974… some people were constructing a spectacular supernatural scene at the Moreira Estudio in Naples, Italy. A 28-year-old lady was standing like a statue at the centre of the illuminated art gallery! A crowd surrounded her, as there were a number of eminent and educated personalities in front of the lady inside the gallery. On that evening, they picked up lipsticks, blades, even roses with thorns, feather, perfume, honey, bread, grapes, wine, scissors, a scalpel, nails, a metal bar, a gun loaded with one bullet and 58 other objects placed on a table and applied them on the female artist! The lady was also touched by many hands… as the night gets deeper, those hands became ruthless!
Well, Marina Abramovic had created this unique Endurance Art Form, betting her own life, in an attempt to understand the psychology of human mind! Endurance Art is a kind of performance art, involving some form of hardship, such as pain, solitude or exhaustion. In this case, performances mainly focus on the passage of long periods of time, also known as Durational Art or Durational Performances. Here, the artist tries to understand the common human thoughts with the help of past problems, as well to express the upper limit of mental and physical tolerance. Often, the audience also become partners of this process. On that day, the Yugoslav artist displayed her most discussed performance ‘Rhythm 0‘: a six-hour work of performance art.
Later, Marina said that her only motto was to understand the human psychology… what a crowd could do in case of no restrictions! During her performance, Marina, covering her body, stood at the centre of the gallery. And, the visitors were allowed to do everything with her with those 72 items from 8pm to 2am!
Thomas McEvilley – the American art critic, poet, novelist and scholar who was also present at Moreira Estudio on that day – recalled that the audience was fairly quiet, initially. However, they became violent as time passed. After three hours, they tore off Marina’s dress and wrote sexual comments on her body with lipsticks! According to McEvilley, the female visitors joined the males to rejoice with Marina’s naked body. And after four hours, the crowd used blades on her body. Marina tolerated the sexual assault against her standing just like a statue because of her commitment to the art form. No wonder, her silence and tears made the visitors more aggressive on that night!
The six-hour show
Marina’s six-hour-long performance ended without any horrible incidents, as some visitors still had humanity left in them! No one used the loaded pistol on her! At 2am, a devastated Marina left the Gallery in front of the visitors. All of a sudden, the scenario changed, as the visitors, who tortured Marina for six hours, failed to look into her eyes after the show! It seems Marina restored her Human Rights that she had given up, voluntarily, for a few hours. In the end, the visitors almost ran out of the room!
Marina’s Rhythm 0 worked as a shock therapy on that day, as her performance helped the Global Community realise the veils of civilisation. The show also took the Global Community to the ambivalence of human psychology, or to the coexistence of two opposing entities as described by Sigmund Freud in his publication ‘Totem and Taboo‘. It showed that whenever a person loses the energy of resistance, s/he becomes a target of the familiar faces, who misuse their opportunities to show their outrage hidden in subconscious minds. Then, a loving and caring father becomes a rapist… and, an apparently shy teenager pelts bricks!
Indeed, the darkness of our inner mind is ubiquitous. It is evident in history that the politicians utilised this darkness many a times by en-cashing some trivial excuses. In this way, they triggered riots in the past. And, the blood of genocides and rapes reddened the human civilisation!
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