By Gordana Maric
In today’s world, how is feminism defined, and is it being effectively presented? Within the performance art world, one woman is distinctly imaginative and precise on her spin on how feminism is presented.
Best known for her recent work, The Artist is Present, Marina Abramović effectively expresses feminist issues through her work without categorizing it in the feminist bubble.
“Half naked, bloody, with tears running down her face was just the beginning of a four decade long, and still counting, observation of the physical and mental boundaries of the human body and mind. “
Her thick, Eastern European accent and long dark hair are bound to mislead you into assumptions and expectations. Born in Yugoslavia, Marina Abramović was born to communist revolutionary parents. She was raised with chillingly opaque love with severe punishments for petty mistakes – the sight of nurturing love was but a mirage in the beyond-Balkan distance. Her parent’s heavy political cultural values influenced Marina in an unorthodox direction. Bringing shame to the family as she stripped her clothes off for her first full nude performance, Rhythm 4, Marina’s blood and intentions streamed with the strict passion of communism through performance art. Marina not only stripped herself to vulnerability and bare skin, but all together lit the cigarette that triggered the brush fire of performance art not only in the Balkans, but in the world.
Rhythm 0, a performance done in 1974, shows Marina’s passivity at its strongest measure as well as being one of her most well known pieces.
“I am an object. You can use any object on the table on me. I take full responsibility,” a note stated along with seventy-six objects on a table, which were mediums varying in pleasure and pain.
Half naked, bloody, with tears running down her face was just the beginning of a four decade long, and still counting, observation of the physical and mental boundaries of the human body and mind.
Whether Marina decides to accept the title of a feminist role model or not, there is something evidently salient to extract from her ‘creations’. Her four decades’ dedication and diligence alone is the result of painfully delightful sacrifice. Marina has not only sacrificed her family name and health through her life-long, blood dripping, rib hurting journey of performance art, she has sacrificed all ideologies and defined female roles from the societal expectation of what it means to be a woman. She has sacrificed creating a family and having children all in the name of ‘the show must go on’. Being raised through an old-fashioned, military-like cultural upbringing, Marina violated the cultural ethos of Eastern Europe with raging nude performances that invoked the spirit of women’s sexuality, and she had brought this burning passion to the West. Her work has unintentionally put an electric charge into feminism and has redefined a woman’s gender role not only in the performance art world, but within our society.
Feminism, as explained here, is not a bra-burning, oestrogen seeping, hair-flipping protest, but instead a creative scream for equanimity within gender binary disposition. Marina teaches us that breaking the feminist stigma can be done in a discrete and unintentional way. We ought to continue to find creative ways to pursue the ‘deviant’ act of crushing gender roles, defacing all stigmas for it to be taken seriously. Marina’s work has done exactly this and unintentionally continues to fume the feminist uprising through her limitless expressions of avant-garde work.
From collaborating with Jay Z to making dozens of celebrities cry during The Artist is Present at the MoMa, Marina will continue to inspire and bring performance art to the masses. And as a female this speaks volumes for feminism and the power of women in general.
March 28, 2016