Rhythm 0, was a six-hour art performance by the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic in Naples in 1974. She is known for performing art that surrounds the theme of personal risk and suffering; where she takes the physicality of the body, endurance, pain, and the staging of real live actions, and displays them in an experimental way. In this particular performance, Abramovic set out 72 objects on a table that both represented pain and pleasure. The items ranged from feathers and lipstick, to an ax, saw, and even a loaded gun. Her instructions to the audience that wished to participate, were that one can use any of the 72 objects on her as they desired. She said that during this period, she takes full responsibility of the actions that transpire. During those six hours, Abramovic stood still while the audience was invited to do to her whatever they wished. She shared, that she went in prepared to die, because she learned that if you leave the decision making up to the audience, they can kill you. She said how she felt extremely violated throughout those six hours, as the audience cut up her clothes, stuck rose thorns in her stomach, and one person even aimed the gun at her head. After the six hours were up, she walked towards the audience covered in blood and tears, for them to all run away because they could not face her after the inhumane acts made upon her. Abramovic described the purpose of the piece, saying that it was a way to find out how far the public would go in this kind of situation. This performance created a rather aggressive atmosphere, and showed the concealed disturbing urges some people possess. This piece, although unsettling, was extremely eye opening, and makes you second guess the people you see in your everyday life.

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Taylor Schweer

8 thoughts on “Rhythm 0

  1. Initially, I was overcome with shock when reading about this- why would someone willingly subject themselves to the sickness of the perverse human mind with promise of no negative repercussions? But I thought more about it, she put her life on the line, ready to die, knowing many of the possibilities of ways in which she could be harmed, yet she still came out of it shocked by the things people did. This truly shows how sick the human mind can be when given the promise of no consequences and full freedom- one could argue this could be a small snippet of a modern day state of nature.

  2. I remember reading about this performance years ago, and it shocked me that people would go so far as to harm the woman even though she is purposefully not responding to the cues. Her art shows that people will still take out undesirable urges on weaker people even if they know it’s wrong.

  3. This is a shocking thing for me. I can see how cruel people can be to other people. I did not think people would do it up to that point because it was public. However, it scares me that people can be cruel to others more than I think.

  4. This is a very interesting piece. Abramovic clearly wanted to see how far random people would go in terms of crime when there are no believed legal repercussions. It is unsettling hearing that people were cruel to her during a 6-hour time frame, however, I believe that it only took a few people to do harsh things to her to convince others that it was acceptable.

  5. As unsettling as this performance is, the idea behind it and the results it achieved are interesting. I was surprised to read that people violated her in such a crowded setting. I imagine if it was a more private setting or just the artist and one other person, someone with harmful urges or intentions might take complete advantage of that. It shows that people are capable and are likely to act on their feelings if it was permitted, or private.

  6. As unsettling this performance is, the idea behind it and the results it achieved are interesting. I was surprised to read that people had violated her in such a crowded setting, I imagine that if it was more private or with only the artist and one person around, someone with harmful urges or intentions would take complete advantage. Overall it portrays that people are capable and likely to act on their feelings, if permitted to, or if in a private setting.

  7. I have heard about his art piece before. It’s unsettling to learn about how far the group took things and makes you wonder how such a thing could happen

  8. This sounds very interesting and frightening all at the same time. I would not do it, but seeing what people can do is eye-opening. I can imagine the results were worse in a crowd than if she had just asked one person to use the items. As people are together, they tend to think less for themselves and are influenced by others in their acts.

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