Endangering yourself is not art

In most cases, I support all forms of expression: music, dance, even street art. However, when I heard of the artist Marina Abramović, I was surprised to find that artists can take forms of extreme to a whole new level.

Marina Abramović is considered to be a performance artist, but not the kind of performance artist that does beautiful pirouettes; she is the kind that immerses herself into her own installations. I find that her art makes clear messages about society, but the extent that she goes to present these messages is a little unnecessary. For example, one of her first pieces called Rhythm 10, done in 1973, was where she carefully laid out 20 knives and where she outstretched her finger, performing the knife game where you skip over every finger stabbing the gaps. For the first half of the performance she recorded herself, “playing” this game where every time she stabbed herself she would change knives. She would then, play that recording and try to mimic the sounds that it created. This seems a little extreme. It is definitely unnecessary to put yourself in physical harm, just to display the concept of rhythm.

Although she goes to unnecessary extremes to convey her message, I actually find one of her works very interesting. The piece Rhythm 0, made in 1974, has spectators become involved with the piece itself. Abramović became the object and allowed the audience do whatever they wanted to her with 72 objects laid out in front of her. This included a pen, scissors, chains, a axe, a loaded pistol and others. Some decided to protect her, like wipe away her tears, while others decided to put her life in danger by pointing a gun against her head. The piece displays a great message about humanity and how corrupt power can really be. However, I only find this piece so intriguing because it reveals that a free-thinking audience can have the morals to put someone’s life in danger.  

Abramović had her good and bad days, but when I tell you about what she is going to do in 2020 you have no choice but to question her sanity. In 2020, Abramović plans to shock herself with 1 million volts of electricity, in order put out a candle with the electricity. Now whether or not she is going through with this plan is highly questionable, but the fact that she thinks this is a good idea in the first place shows that she places her art above her own life. Art is not supposed to be something that you have to endanger yourself for in order to convey a message. Art allows you to express yourself, but you can’t express yourself when you’re dead.

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