Protest Art to Performance Art- Part 3
Arts Speak

Protest Art to Performance Art- Part 3

Divya Menon

Divya Menon

Like a branch of a plant that shoots off seeking the Sun, performance art is a genre of expression that craves for greater meaning to life; one that seeks answers compulsively to questions and issues that cannot be addressed otherwise. Let us take a look at some performance art forms that are both subtle and profound in that they not only convey great messages to the world society as a whole but have also rocked the shaky and feeble grounds of human conscience.

One cold London morning in 2015, saw artists Anish Kapoor and Ai Weiwei walking down Piccadilly Street in an act of solidarity with refugees. In support of the displaced - people with no particular place to go to, with no homes that offer comfort and security. Anish Kapoor called it an 'act of compassion' while Weiwei hoped to repeat it in other places as long as it was necessary. With an entire crowd following the two Artists, on this mission, the message was successfully delivered.

In 1974, Rythym 0 of 1974 by Marina Abramovic considered the 'grandmother of performance art' reset all benchmarks of artistic expression. Her experiment was rather simple - she would stand still for six hours from 8am till 2pm and before her was a table on which 72 different objects from feather to blades and gun was placed to be used upon her if her audience so wished as urged by her via a notice board in the room.

She sat motionless through the period as some people played with her body, while others touched her inappropriately; one used a razor to cut her skin, some made sexual advances; some unclothed her and so on. At the end of her six hour ordeal she began to walk amidst her viewers who were unable to look her in the eye! Later, the Yugoslavian artist remarked, "this work reveals something terrible about humanity. It shows how fast a person can hurt you under favorable circumstances. It shows how easy it is to dehumanize a person who does not fight, who does not defend himself. It shows that if he provides the stage, the majority of ‘normal’ people, apparently can become truly violent.”

Rhythm 0 despite its superfluous simplicity, with minimal accouterments to this day remains one of the greatest performances that not only assayed the boundaries of human imagination but also of human endurance as much as human iniquity and impiety.

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