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THE MOST SCANDALOUS PERFORMANCE ART OF THE 1970s

 

By Culturekiosque Staff

PARIS, 10 NOVEMBER 2005 — Performance art gained traction in the 1970s. It is currently enjoying somewhat of a Renaissance in Europe and the United States. For those who missed performance art in the 1970s, three notable artists from the 1970s whose works inform performance art today are:

Vito Acconci (b. 1940, New York) acquired his reputation in the 1960s for his performances and the photography and video art derived from them. Generally a direct confrontation with the viewer, in a very intrusive manner, is central to these performances. Acconci’s controversial 1972 project Seedbed at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York where he hid under a false floor for three days every week, for a period of 8 hours, masturbating and speaking through a microphone connected to a speaker positioned inside the gallery space. Visitors could hear the sound of him masturbating as he whispered sexual fantasies about each passerby though the speakers.

Acconci has stated, the work was an attempt to establish an "intimate" connection with those who visited the gallery, through fantasizing sexual relation — Acconci would speak to visitors as if they were lovers. He enjoyed his greatest notoriety for the performances in which he explored the boundaries of his own body and its capacity to endure pain: biting himself, falling on the ground, or pulling out a square decimetre of his own body hair.

The following year Gina Pane performed The Conditioning, first action of Self-Portrait(s) (1973). Pane lay on a metal bed above lit candles for approximately thirty minutes. Her sufferiing was apparent to the audience, who witnessed her wringing her hands in pain.

Similarly, in Marina Abramovic's Lips of Thomas (1975, Galerie Krinzinger, Innsbruck, Austria), the Yugoslav-born Abramovic ate a kilogram of honey and drank a liter of red wine out of a glass. She broke the glass with her hand, incised a star in her stomach with a razor blade, and then whipped herself until she "no longer felt pain." She lay down on an ice cross while a space heater suspended above caused her to bleed more profusely. The work earned Abramovic a 10-minute ovation from the audience.



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