BLOG Category: Body Art


Become your Inner Superhuman via Art Exercises (and the Help of Marina Abramović)
Inside Amy Schumer: Feminist Art in Unexpected Places
Six Times Chris Burden Was More Extreme Than You
Dangerous Art: The Weapons of Performance Artist Chris Burden

Become your Inner Superhuman via Art Exercises (and the Help of Marina Abramović)

Part I: The Background

Over the course of her performance art career, Marina Abramović developed a signature method of techniques that would allow her to reach a higher plane of consciousness required for grueling, endurance-based work. She researched various spiritual and cultural realms, oftentimes spending time with people such as the aboriginal tribes of Australia or Chinese Buddhists. Her learning lent Marina a superhuman sensibility that included the ability to sit for hours on end without moving, to conjure laser sharp focus while spending extended periods of time in repetitive action, or to withstand intense self-inflicted pain.

In The Artist is Present, 2013, she employed the culmination of a career’s worth of her method to be able to sit physically present over many days while still intimately connecting with each and every person who came to sit with her. Although she was physically exhausted and mentally depleted by the end of the performance, viewers had no visible hint of her suffering throughout the piece.

Marina coined her practices the Abramović Method, an exploration of being present in both time and space, incorporating exercises that center on breath, motion, stillness and concentration. She has since shared it via workshops with both aspiring artists and non-artists looking to reach a higher plane of existence.

Part II: The Logic of The Method

Photo (c) PanosKokkinias

Abramović has described the steps as follows: For each workshop, I would take between twelve and twenty-five students outdoors, always to a place that was neither too cold nor too hot, never uncomfortable, and, while we fasted for three to five days, drinking only water and herbal teas, and refraining from speaking, we would do various exercises.

Some examples:

  • BLINDFOLD: Leave home and go to the forest, where you are blindfolded, then try to find your way back home. Like a blind person, an artist needs to learn to see with his or her whole body.
  • LONG WALK IN LANDSCAPE: Start walking from a given point, proceeding in a straight line through the landscape for four hours. Rest, then return along the same route.
  • WALKING BACKWARD: Walk backwards for four hours, while holding a mirror in your hand. Observe reality as a reflection.
  • FEELING ENERGY: With your eyes closed, extend your hands in front of you toward another participant. Never touching the other person, move you hands around different areas of their body for one hour, feeling their energy.
  • SLOW-MOTION EXERCISE: For the entire day, do everything very slowly: walking, drinking water, showering. Peeing in slow motion is very difficult, but try.
    Toward Our Center:

Part III: Toward Our Center:
Abramović Discusses Presence and Purpose


Part IV: The Abramović Method in Action

Abramović has held workshops from Athens to Sydney, called Marina Abramović: In Residence where she mentors young artists in an intensive two-week program, which culminates in a group show where the artists use what they learned in the Abramović Method.

 

Here is Abramović describing her method at the Australian workshop:

The Abramović Method and Lady Gaga, (The Method helped Lady Gaga quit smoking):

A Sample Lesson For You:

By creating her signature method and sharing it with the public, Marina has evolved her work as a performance artist into one of a great teacher. She has spent a career using her body as a medium and now she asks others to consider using theirs to become fully present in their own lives and to embrace the empowerment that results both on an individual level and as part of a connected humanity at large.

Through her MAI Institute, Abramović continues to spread these principles through collaborations with artists and cultural organizations and to groups and individuals looking to benefit personally from her knowledge.

Further Info:
More on The Marina Abramović Institute
The life and art of Marina Abramović  (on The Art Story)

Inside Amy Schumer: Feminist Art in Unexpected Places

Feminist art in the 1970s and 1980s created a dialogue about the gender inequality in society. Our modern day Guerrilla Girls have taken off the masks; they are still battling against the same problems, but their methods have changed.

Amy Schumer does comedy that you can’t ignore. Is it because of her sketches’ catchy songs or their on the money exposes of the impossible standards that women face in society? It’s quite the head scratcher, but, lucky us, we can watch to find out.

Topic 1: Expiration Date

The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist – Guerrilla Girls (1988)
Last F**kable Day – Amy Schumer (2015)

Youth and Beauty don’t last forever, but man’s ability to get in the way of a woman’s success stands the test of time. Ladies, get ready to disappear after fifty!

Topic 2: Just Put it On

Super rich / Ultra gorgeous / Extra skinny / Forever young – Barbara Kruger (1997)
Girl You Don’t Need Makeup – Amy Schumer (2015)

A woman isn’t a woman until she puts on her face. And by face we mean enough makeup and contouring to put photoshop out of business.

Topic 3: We Can’t Even

Who Does She Think She Is? – Ellen Hochberg (2012)
12 Angry Men – Amy Schumer (2015)

You don’t conform to the societal standards agreed upon by a select group of men? Don’t even think of going out in public without consulting that plastic surgeon first.





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Topic 4: Make Me a Sandwich

Semiotics of the Kitchen – Martha Rosler (1975)
Nutritionist – Amy Schumer (2014)

A woman’s place doesn’t have to be in the kitchen anymore, but she better spend the rest of it in the gym.

Topic 5: Clear Eyes

Three Weeks in May – Suzanne Lacy (1977)
Football Town Nights – Amy Schumer (2015)

Try to raise the issue when people don’t want to hear it and they’re gonna be like “imma let you finish but…” Don’t let Kanye interrupt your speech, keep going.

BONUS: Free the Nipple

The Free the Nipple campaign fights for a woman’s right to bear it all. If you can walk around the streets of New York topless, then why can’t you do the same in a photo?

Do Women Have to be Naked to get into the Met? – Guerrilla Girls (1989)
Free the Nipple – (2014)

Boobs and butts are okay as long as they were painted by an old white dude, but try posting your own stuff and get ready to be reported for indecency.

The next time you watch Inside Amy Schumer or go on Instagram see if you can spot the Feminist art connection, it’s like Where’s Waldo? but without all the crowds.

 

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For more info and analysis on Feminist Art, visit the Art Story Feminist Art page.

To watch more Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central, click here.

Six Times Chris Burden Was More Extreme Than You

Burden emerged as a performance artist in 1971, using his own body as the material for works. From self-crucifixion to near-death by water dunk, Burden’s art is ritualistic and always extreme. Here are seven times he proved it.

Five Day Locker Piece, 1971 Did your thesis require five days spent stuffed in an art school locker with only five gallons of water? Probably not. He better have gotten an A.

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Images via Frederick Sanchez

Trans-fixed, 1974 Nailed to a Volkswagen Beetle like a Christian martyr, Burden rolled out of a Los Angeles garage, revved the engine for two minutes and rolled back in. Self-given stigmata are now the signs of a bad-ass.

Image via NXT

Velvet Water, 1974 “Burden relentlessly dunked his head in a filled-up sink, trying to inhale the oxygen-rich water. We sat stupefied, paralyzed, until he seemed to pass out, and the monitor went dark, and that was it.” – Jerry Saltz, 2013. Oh.

Doomed, 1975 Burden lay in complete stillness under a sheet of tilted glass for 45 hours on the floor of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Only when a museum employee, fearing his harm, set a pitcher of water next to him did he smash a ticking clock and end the performance.

His reaction: “I thought, ‘My God, are they going to leave me here to die?’”

That’s dedication.

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Image via Wikipedia Commons

Beam Drop, 2008 (original performance 1984) Sixty I-beams dropped into a trench of wet concrete will definitely make an impact. Dangerous and visceral, this Burden artwork evokes bodily pain in the scraping sound of steel against steel and the splash of unset cement.

Image via Flickr Commons

The Flying Steamroller, 1996 A typical day in Burden’s art may include flying through the air on a counterbalanced steamroller. Art, machine and human transcend all those physical limitations that come with standing on the ground.

For more extreme measures by Chris Burden, click here: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-burden-chris.htm

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Dangerous Art: The Weapons of Performance Artist Chris Burden

Performance artist Chris Burden has taken art, and his body, to the extreme. In the 1970s, Burden made a controversial series that focused on endangering himself with the help of everyday props. His weapons of choice? Guns, cars, fire and glass shards.

Trans-Fixed, 1974.

A Volkswagen Beetle: In a 1974 performance Burden literally transfixed himself to the rear bumper of a Volkswagen Bug with nails through the palms of his hands. Burden, in all his Christ-like glory, was rolled out of a garage and presented to a group of spectators in Venice, California. The engine revved at full throttle for two minutes, symbolizing the sound of screaming pain, and then Burden disappeared back into the garage like an apparition.

Shoot, 1971

 A .22 Rifle: In 1971 Chris Burden got shot. Don’t worry, it was part of his art piece, Shoot. Standing 13 feet away from each other, surrounded by bare white walls, a friend shot Burden with a .22 rifle. He explained his motives as thus: “I had an intuitive sense that being shot is as American as apple pie. We see people being shot on TV, we read about it in the newspaper. Everybody has wondered what it’s like. So I did it.”

Burden later admitted that it was only supposed to be a graze wound, but his friend missed and actually shot him in the arm. Oops. Wonder if they’re still friends?





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Match Piece, 1972. Photo: R. Boss

Fire: Using the heat generated from two transistorized TV sets, Burden lit aluminum foil-wrapped matches and launched them with two paper clips toward a naked woman on the floor. Although not harming himself, the danger of Burden’s previous pieces is still very much present here. The woman is said to have flinched when burning matches grazed her while Burden kept his focus only on the small TVs.

Fire Roll, 1973.

More Fire: In another flame-related performance a few years later, Burden set himself on fire. Burden explained his process simply: “I placed the pants on the floor and saturated them in lighter fluid. I lit the pants on fire and extinguished the flames with my body. I turned on the lights and returned to watching television.” So he used his body to extinguish the burning pants that he was wearing.

Chris Burden, Through The Night Softly, 1973.

Broken Glass: In his ironically titled 1973 piece, Through the Night Softly, Burden slithered across broken glass in his underwear with his hands bound behind his back. An audience uncomfortably watched Burden’s agonizing pain as shards of glass shredded the front of his body. As if this wasn’t enough, Burden went on to purchase late night commercial spots on a local TV station, running a ten second clip of the piece so that the discomfort of pain could be felt within the comfort of homes around California.

What was the point of these acts and how can this abuse of your own body be called “art”?!?

Find out on The Art Story website: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-performance-art.htm

Read more about Burden’s life and career here: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-burden-chris.htm

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