(Sorry I couldn’t find bigger photos, click them to make them bigger though)
Rebecca Belmore, Vigil, 2002 (stills from a video of the performance)
This was a direct reference to the Pickton murders (murders of Indiginous women in Vancouver), which made it a public ritual with political end. The features of the performance were: scrubbing the streets, her arms covered with names of missing women, ripping a flower through her teeth, nailing her dress to a telephone pole and tearing out of it until she was left in her underwear (as recreation of dehumanization process and sexual violence inflicted upon them), and spoke the women’s names.
Her performance brought the women alive again and simultaneously, addressed the invisibility of their absence (they were not given enough priority in the media and in police investigative efforts because of their low status in society as Indigenous women and as sex workers).
In this piece, Abramovic once again explores the dynamics of pain, violence and self-destruction. In the first performance of this piece in 1973, she recorded the “rhythmic melody” of the sounds made as she plunged a knife rapidly between the fingers of her outstretched hand, changing knives each time she stabbed her hand- rather than the surface on which her hand rested- until she had used many knives.
Playing the tape back, she repeated the performance using the recording as a “score” to duplicate the same actions and injuries as the same moments. At once a feat of extraordinary concentration and a scene of repetitous self-mutilation, Rhythm 10 amplifies the way in which women sometimes engage in self-sabotage.
From foot-binding to obsessive dieting, diverse cultural energy has been dedicated to deforming women’s bodies, often with women’s own masochistic consent.
This is similar to the Marina Abramovic piece Rhythm 0 that I posted earlier, although Yoko’s performance happened 9 years before. Yoko Ono’s performance piece deals with addressing issues of gender violence by directly implicating the spectator. She was kneeling on a stage, impassive, and then the audience was invited to come and cut off pieces of her clothing.
The human body is a sign of experience and identity, and performance art reflects this.
You can see a couple of videos of this piece at these two links:
This was a 6 hour performance. Laid out on a table were 72 objects the audience could manipulate in any way they wanted to upon her body. As time passed, the audience becam more and more agressive towards her and by the end she was injured and violated; her clothes taken off her body. Many of the audience members were frightened when she cut off the performance; they thought she would retaliate.
She was confronting the audience and raising their awareness about their potential for violence, particularly towards women. They placed their desires onto her passive and inert body.
The MoMA website has a good slideshow/audio presentation on the piece: http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/audios/190/1972