Her name is Marina Abramović, she is a 66 year old preforming artist from Serbia.
Marina Abramović during her Rhythm 0 piece.
Performance artist is a type of art that is created in front or presented to an audience by an artist. I want to talk to you about a specific piece she did called, Rhythm 0. This performance involved Marina to stand still for six hours long, while the audience was invited to do to her whatever they wanted to, using 72 different objects that were placed on a table. These included a rose, honey, wine, grapes, perfume, scissors, a scalpel, nails, and a gun loaded with one bullet. She said, “the purpose of this piece was to find out how far the public will go”. At the beginning of this piece the public was calm, people would kiss her on the cheek, hand her a rose, or just look at her. As time went of the public began to become more and more wild. They would cut her neck, and drink her blood, they would carry her around and lay her on the table and put a knife in between her thighs. They cut her clothes off and stuck the rose petals into her body. Finally someone took the gun and pointed it at her and guards ran in and pulled him away.
I was drawn to this performance when I first saw an article about it on Facebook a year ago, reading what the audience did to Marina and how they dehumanized her shocked me. I was reminded about the performance once more just a few days ago when I read and watched a classmates blog post with a video about a woman who silently walked through New York and was verbally harassed hundreds of times. I felt that this performance was important to talk about because it is terrifying what people will do to women who don’t fight back and defend themselves. The way they treated Marina should be brought to society’s attention because the dehumanization and maltreatment of women has become far too normal in Western culture. Rappers degrade women in their songs calling them bitches and ho’s. The most popular video games give extra points for mauling women. In my gender communication class a few weeks ago we talked about catcalling and the women in my class said that they felt like a piece of meat, animals. They didn’t see it as a compliment, some women even felt scared and vulnerable.
Julia T. Wood talks about Growing up feminine, There are two different versions of femininity that coexist today. One says that women have it all today, they can get any job they want, and have marriages where men share the responsibility of raising children equally. At the same time fewer than 20% of women will be given the opportunity to advance to higher levels of their profession. “Even women graduating today with M.B.A.s make $4,600 less per year than men.” In today’s society the media constantly portrays the message that youth and beauty are key to a woman’s success. One of the five themes we identify in the current views of femininity and womanhood is negative treatment by others. Devaluation and the mistreatment of females are prevalent in Western Culture. Not only is it just men, rapers, and the media but the negative treatment of females begins early and can be intense in girls peer groups. Girls can be very critical of other girls who are not pretty, or thin. They will spread hurtful rumors, exclude her from a group, as well as encourage others to criticize her. We can also look at the standpoint theory, societies are made up of different groups that have different amounts of power and privileges. This theory focuses on how membership in groups such as, gender, race, class, and sexual identity, shapes what individuals experience, know, feel, and do. Women tend to be thought of as less powerful then men, giving women less opportunities than men. Mostly in the workplace, and the way women are treated.
After reading about growing up feminine and relating it back to how Marina was treated by her audience in her performance we can see that not only men treat women negatively but women do as well. We need to realize that todays society as a whole needs to treat both men and women equally. At the end of Marina’s Rhythm 0 piece when she was able to move after her 6 hours of standing still her audience ran away fearing what she might say or do to them. This as well as the woman walking silently through New York City shows that we need to stand up for ourselves and each other to create equality. We also need to start at the beginning childhood to prevent these themes of femininity from occurring as well as the themes of masculinity.