1) Marina Abramović - Rhythm 0
New York-based Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović has expressed that “I am looking for an art that really asks questions, an art which is disturbing, an art which really makes connections with our disconnected selves…” Themes of her work seek to explore the performer/audience relationship and test ones bodily and psychological limits. Her most standout and captivating piece is ‘Rhythm 0’ which was performed in 1974 in Studio Morra, Naples. Abramović adopted a passive role with the audience an active one.
In front of her laid 72 objects on a table which ranged from flowers and perfume to more threatening objects including nails, a knife, hammer and a loaded gun. Lying docile and naked, the audience were allowed to use these objects any way they wished.
Although at first modest, the audience began to inflict pain, harming Abramović and realising her as an object of their use.
With this powerful performance Marina certainly tested the physical and psychological limits of both herself and the participating audience.
2) Vito Acconci - Seedbed
American artist Vito Acconci performed ‘Seedbed’ in 1971. During this installation, Acconci lay hidden beneath a specially-designed ramp in the Sonnabend Gallery, New York to the anonymity of the visitors above.
He masturbated whilst voicing into a speaker his sexual fantasies about the visitors above him with sexually charged expletives. He did so over the course of three weeks, eight hours a day.
One of his main points of this performance was to create a situation of reciprocal exchanges between the audience and artist.
3) Damien Hirst – For the Love of God
For the Love of God is one of the more famous artworks of English artist Damien Hirst, which produced in 2007 for the Beyond Belief exhibition and displayed in the White Cube Gallery, London.
This artwork consisted of a platinum cast of a real human skull (with real teeth!) and was encrusted with 8,601 diamonds, which totaled at the sumly cost of nearly £14 million. It is rumoured that Hirst sold the piece for £50 million to an anonymous group of buyers.
Themes explored are that the object illustrated the brevity of human existence - it transcended over decay in a visual splendour.
Art historian Rudi Fuchs asserted that “it represents death as something infinitely more relentless." He went on to say, "Compared to the tearful sadness of a vanitas scene, the diamond skull is glory itself”.
4) Guillermo Vargas - Exposición N°1
Guillermo Vargas is best known for his exhibition at the Códice gallery of an emaciated dog in Nicaragua, 2007. This exposition featured the dog tied to a wall with a short length of rope. The words "Eres Lo Que Lees" ("You Are What You Read") were written on the wall with dog food.
This exhibition caused further controversy when it was reported that the dog died as a result of starvation. Although there was much reaction to this internationally on blogs and the internet, the director of the Códice Gallery reported that at no time during the exhibition did any visitor try to free the dog, feed it or call the police. In light of this Vargas has stated that both the exhibit and the controversy have illustrated people’s hypocrisy.
5) Michael Landy – Break Down
In 2001, installation artist Michael Landy spent two weeks destroying all of his worldly possessions to form his exhibition, Breakdown, on London’s busy Oxford Street in a disused shop.
He did so to reflect the lifespan of things, and also the emotional breakdown one can feel when losing their possessions.
There were a total of 7,006 objects and included mundane items such as cooking utensils, but also prized items such as original works by Damien Hirst.
All images sourced from Wikipedia