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Artist Research - Project 2

Marina Abramovic

Marina was born in 1946 in Serbia and began creating performance art at the age of 23.  In the 1970s her performance career took off with her series of Rhythm performances. One of her best known performances is Rhythm 0 (1974) in which Abramovic stood passively in a gallery, nude, with 72 objects available for people in the audience to use in any way they chose, such as clothing her, applying makeup, or cutting her body. Two objects, a gun and bullet were also on the table with which a person aimed the loaded gun to her head. The performance notoriously ended after six hours with her walking towards the audience and they all ran away, afraid to confront the person they had become increasingly aggressive towards.

Abramovic is also well known for her work with the performance artist Ulay. Imponderabilia(1977) was a performance done by the two artists where they stood facing each other as naked sentries to the gallery entrance that forced visitors to walk between the two, squeezing between the small space. This performance caused a dilemma to any visitor wishing to enter the gallery because they first had to choose if they were comfortable to squeeze by and second they had to choose which person to face, male or female.

Abramovic’s performances focus intently on the relationship between audience and performer and pushing the relationship between the two.  Abramovic uses her body to interact with viewers or to create a moment that becomes a spectacle. For instance, in Imponderabilia the viewer has to deal with the actual artist without an intermediary artwork because the artist is the artwork itself.  For my own project, I want to consider the idea of private and public space but I will also be using myself in my video. The video will be projected in public space on campus where I am a member of the community. In this way, people can recognize me and possibly feel uncomfortable watching me perform private actions. Even though the video serves as an intermediary, videos are often viewed as transparent and will feel truthful.

Abramovic’s work pushes her body to its limits and even puts her body into dangerous situations. In this way, many of her performances, though meant to be about the endurance of her body, instead becomes spectacular to the audience. I think that many of the works can then prevent the audience to consider the performance itself but instead are caught up in the idea of performance.  Abramovic stated, "To be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre. Theatre is fake… The knife is not real, the blood is not real, and the emotions are not real. Performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real." I believe that often people forget the reality in her artwork because we are so used to watching the fictional and sensational. For instance, in Abramovic’s performance The Artist is Present she went through training at NASA to prepare herself for the work and did not use the bathroom during the seven hours of sitting in the gallery every day. These are things that the average viewer probably would not think about while viewing the performance for only a temporary moment.


Marina Abramovic’s Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramovi%C4%87

MoMA “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present” Exhibition Page: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/965

Guardian interview with Marina Abramovic: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/oct/03/interview-marina-abramovic-performance-artist

Ulay & Abramovic “Imponderabilia” [1977] youtube video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgeF7tOks4s&feature=related

Art: Marina Abramovic: Rhythm 0 youtube video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ennfeVSirDU


Bart Stolle

Bart Stolle is a Belgian digital artist who was one of the artists presented on our project sheet resources.  The artwork is a projection onto the windows of Zeno X Gallery in 2009 that depicts domestic activities performed by simple geometric figures. These figures appear throughout Stolle’s artwork, simple line figures that are made up of two circles, a square, and lines for legs and arms. Though the figures are abstract, they appear human and normal in the simple tasks they engage in; in this specific video the figures sit pensively writing at a desk, drinking tea, and moving a large mirror.  While I am not interested in the animation, I am interested in the idea of watching someone without their acknowledgement which occurs in the animation. I am interested in provoking the idea of voyeurism and an uncomfortable sensation of watching someone doing something personal without their permission.

A video projection on the windows of Zeno X Gallery (2009) Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGU5DlzCLJY

Artist Information: http://friezeartfair.com/yearbook/artist/100044949

Artist Website: http://www.bartstolle.com/index.html