Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Top 10 The Best Excessive Performance Art Pieces

By Thao Pham Feb 17, 2024

10. Hermann Kitsch’s “100. Aktion” (1998)

Hermann Nitsch was a member of the Vienna Actionist movement, and his paintings are frequently graphic and disturbing on purpose. He has performed scenes of human torture and animal sacrifice under the auspices of his Orgiastic Mysteries Theatre, among other earthly pleasures. However, his 1998 six-day play was his greatest work to yet. His previous endeavors were all preparatory.

“100. Aktion” held at his own private castle, complete with expansive grounds, sweeping vineyards, and underground tunnels (note: the video above is not this piece, but should give you a decent feel of his art). The “genuinely occurring events” of the play were “performed” by the audience (500–1,000 people), notwithstanding the involvement of 100 performers. 180 musicians, including an orchestra, brass bands, and tavern bands, performed alongside the actors, accompanied by a specially written 1,595-page composition. For the show, a belfry with five church bells was also constructed.

10,000 roses, 1,000 liters of blood, dead pigs and sheep, 60 stretchers, over 10,000 meters of canvas (for the “painting actions” of the second day), and 5,000 torches for the nighttime parades were among the supplies. 13,000 liters of wine was needed “to produce the intoxicated, unbridled joy demanded by the score.” On the fifth day, two military tanks were also brought in.

However, the piece’s shock value went beyond its excess. In the play, three live bulls were also killed: one on the first, third, and fifth days. The goal was to make visible what is concealed. They came from an abattoir, where they were bound to die anyhow. “Society killed the animals… not me,” as Nitsch stated. To expose the truths of life, “from the sublimest feelings of happiness and ecstasy… to the deepest abysses, revulsion, the bestial destructive rage of the darkest inner urges,” was, in reality, the purpose of the six-day performance. (The six-day period refers to the creation story in Christianity.)

However, it wasn’t all symbolic. When asked why he occasionally shackled and blindfolded participants, Nitsch only said that he enjoyed it.

9. Sebastian Horsley’s “Solo Kristos” (2000)

Sebastian Horsley was a painter with a limitation: he could only depict things that he personally encountered. He intended to paint the Crucifixion, at least that was his justification for choosing to be crucified in the Philippines.

He went to the community of San Pedro Cutud, where young men are annually crucified with their hands and feet nailed through, during Holy Week, in order to undergo the experience. It’s their means of feeling closer to God; they’re not being punished or killed.

Horsley wasn’t the first foreigner to try to get himself crucified. Actually, after a Japanese man sold video of his own crucifixion as sadomasochistic pornography, the locals forbade outsiders from taking part. But after much bribery and convincing, Horsesley was granted permission for a really low-key session that would be captured on camera by a buddy who is a photographer.

Things didn’t work out well. He collapsed forward, unconscious from the agony, severing the straps that were supposed to hold his arms and wrists in place and lessen the impact of the nails. The platform that held up his feet had likewise collapsed. Horsley fell to the ground while the villagers screamed and fled. He then claimed that it was the work of a god in whom he had no faith.

The response from back home was to further compound the injury. With titles like “Art Freak Crucifies Himself,” the British press was not only uncharacteristically nasty, but the art world was also contemptuous.

8. “People Who Eat Dinner” by Zhu Yu (2000)

Like Feng Boyi and Ai Weiwei, Zhu Yu is a Chinese artist who used shock value to make a political message. A sequence of images titled “Dinner – Eating People” featured Zhu obtaining, preparing, and consuming a six-month-old human fetus while maintaining an expression of indifference.

Regardless of how you view the images, they are graphic, yet the fetus is real and not at all fresh. It is obviously drenched in formalin. He did nothing but pretend to bite it, even after cooking.

But the images lost all meaning when they were uploaded on the internet. They were interpreted as proof of several things, including a secretive Taiwanese fetus kitchen, China’s legalized fetus-eating practice, the baby-eating fad that sparked the coronavirus outbreak, and more. Two years later, Zhu, who seemed content with the outcome of his “experiment,” recorded himself haggling with a prostitute to become pregnant, then getting an abortion to give the fetus to a dog, as he does later in the movie.

7. Vito Acconci’s “Seedbed” (1972)

For a whole three weeks, one could easily assume that nothing was happening at the Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There was nothing in Room A. But Vito Acconci’s “Seedbed” started as soon as they walked down the ramp and entered the space.

He said, “You’re pushing… down on my mouth,” over the speakers. “My eyes are digging into your hair.”

The artist repeatedly masturbated inside the ramp, hidden beneath their feet. He told a microphone about his sexual dreams, which were stoked by the sound of their movements. His final words would be, “I’ve done this for you, I’ve done this with you, I’ve done this to you,” as he became more and more gasping for air (and explicit). He would then begin with the following individual.

It has been dubbed “a seminal work” by the Met Museum. “To create an intimate connection between artist and audience, even as they remained invisible to one another,” was the stated goal. It was the 1970s, too.

6. “Obliterate/Resonate” by Ron They (2011)

The 50th birthday party for Ron Athey was sure to get violent. This gay performance artist is well-known for her bloodletting and self-mutilation. His work has entailed piercing, hooking, stapling, scarifying, and branding, drawing on his Pentecostal upbringing and HIV status. He states that in his work, he always plays “either with flesh or with fluid or blood.”

And he had the same birthday every 50 years. In the installation, “Resonate/Obliterate,” he was shown practicing yoga within a glass box while completely nude save for a long, blonde wig that was pinned to his scalp. Stepping to the beat of a “futuristic soundtrack,” he vigorously combed the artificial hair. Subsequently, he lifted it to uncover his face and took out the pins, causing blood to gush out “like Christ in a crown of thorns.”

At last, Athey applied lubricant all over his body, blending it with the blood, “plunged his fist into his rectum, and commenced laughing triumphantly.”” He refueled his blood sugar with some birthday cake after the show.

5. Aliza Shvarts’ “Untitled” (2008)

Aliza Shvarts, a Yale art student, shot to fame in 2008 when a press leak about her untitled final thesis came from off campus. For a year, she repeatedly artificially inseminated herself between the ninth and fifteenth days of her menstrual cycles using semen from donors, or “fabricators,” as she called them. Then, she used herbal remedies to terminate her pregnancy on the twenty-eighth day of every cycle. She never knew if she was pregnant, but she did suffer from severe cramps and copious bleeding as a result.

She intended to use the blood to create a sculpture as part of her project, but Yale intervened to stop the story from getting out of hand after the Washington Post learned about it. The university falsely told the media that Shvarts had staged the entire event and outlawed the sculpture. They claimed that she had never gotten inseminated for the role. The story went popular on the internet after Shvarts refuted their denial.

She later observed that “the piece only exists as a narrative circulation” in the lack of any substantial elements (the sculpture, video, images, etc.). Her artwork was intended to “open questions of material and discursive reproduction,” according to its stated purpose. that it very definitely did.

4. Lai Thi Dieu Ha’s “Untitled” (2011)

Lai Thi Dieu Ha, a performer from Hanoi, became well-known for her shows that tackled taboo topics including sexuality in Vietnam. Her art is “about the control of the government, cultural censorship,” as she stated. She is the one who shocks the Vietnamese press (gay soc).

She performed bird motions while completely nude and covered in blue feathers and glue in “Fly Up” (Bay Len). The piece came to a close when she let go of a live bird.

However, the most attention was given to her following piece of art. She used hot irons to create a mass of pig bladders, which she then rubbed on her face, arms, and legs in this untitled sculpture. After applying the bladders and causing blisters on her skin, she removed the burned areas by pressing the irons against her arms.

3. Chris Burden’s “Shoot” (1971)

Chris Burden was a staunch opponent of war, especially in regard to Vietnam. He demonstrated his support for victims as a performance artist by committing startling acts of self-harm. Examples include being thrown down two flights of stairs, being crucified to a Volkswagen Beetle, and being locked in a school locker with a bottle above to drink from and a bottle below to urinate into. He was also given pins by members in the audience.

In the most well-known piece of his work, “Shoot,” he was shot at close range by a buddy using a gun. There weren’t many people there, even though it was a gallery; they were all the artist’s pals. However, Super-8 film was used to record the event. The gunfire can be heard and seen in the video, as the victim stumbles forward and the shell strikes the ground.

The rifle missed its mark. The bullet was meant to just barely miss his arm, but it went straight through, causing Burden and company to rush to the hospital, where the staff was shocked by what they saw. He may not have realized it at the time, but the fact that it actually created a real wound was actually kind of better for the piece. Ultimately, the goal was to confront America’s apathy toward violence.

2. Ham Cybele’s “Ham Cybele – Century Banquet” (2012)

On April 8, 2012, one tweet stood out from the rest for a short while:

“[Please RT] For 100,000 yen, I will serve you my entire penis, testicles, and scrotum as a meal. Will cook and prepare at the buyer’s designated location per his requests.”

It continued by assuring readers that the meat, which was 22 years old and devoid of illness, dysfunction, or hormone therapy, was of high grade. This wasn’t a robot. This was a legitimate offer from Tokyo artist Ham Cybele (HC), who was the tweeter. They had their nipples removed in the past. This “testicle banquet” was intended to promote awareness of non-binary, or “asexual,” rights. It was also not illegal, despite some people’s attempts to get the graphic dinner cancelled. Japan permits cannibalism, as do all US states with the exception of Idaho.

Five days after the tweet, five guests shared the tab and watched HC sauté their own scrotum, testicles, and penis with button mushrooms and parsley while enjoying a piano recital. The diners tucked in, having signed a release absolving the artist of all liability for negative reactions. The decision? Tasteless and rubbery. That wasn’t the point, though.

1. Marina Abramovic’s “Rhythm 0” (1974)

The reason Marina Abramovic’s “Rhythm 0” tops our list isn’t because she went too far as an artist; rather, it’s because, unusually, her audience went too far. She was actually more surprised than everyone.

This was not true of her previous “Rhythm” compositions. She used the classic gangster party trick of quickly stabbing a knife between her fingers on a table in “Rhythm 10,” for example, and didn’t stop until she had cut herself twenty times. She leaped onto a platform shaped like a flaming star in “Rhythm 5”, lost consciousness from a lack of oxygen, and had to be saved by audience members. Then, in Rhythms 2 and 4, she passed out intentionally, first from drugs and then from hyperventilation.

“Rhythm 0” was an altogether separate animal. As the audience entered, they saw Abramovic standing at a long table that had been organized by her to hold seventy-two things in a passive manner. Some were for pain (whip, needle, razor blades), some were for pleasure (perfume, grapes, wine), and some were unclear or neutral (newspaper, paint, lipstick). Certain items, such as Band-Aids, inadvertently encouraged injuries. The gun and bullet, however, were the most startling items. The written instructions were straightforward: “One may use any of the 72 objects on the table on me as they like. The object is me. For the time being, I accept complete responsibility.

In this case, Abramovic was challenging her audience as much as her own boundaries, as was the theme of her work. Her goal was to find out how far they could travel. They were playful at first. However, they started acting more hostilely. She remembered, “It was six hours of real horror.” Her clothing were cut by someone. There were thorns in her stomach.

Before putting on the Band Aid, someone else took a knife and sliced her around the neck, consuming the blood. She was even grabbed up and carried around the room by someone while still partially nude. Then they threw her down on the table and slashed the knife into the wood between her legs. Someone eventually got the gun loaded and pointed it in her direction. She recalled that they “put in my hand [to] see if I would resist] if I were pressing it, her hand against my hand.”

It took someone else to end the piece for her, just like with several of her other works. As the gallerist walked in and declared the piece finished, Abramovic appeared to awaken from a daze. They all “literally [ran] out of the door” as she passed past the audience, naked, wounded, and crying. That evening, when she went back to her hotel room, she noticed a “really big piece of white hair” when she glanced in the mirror.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 The Most Serious Addictions That Society Acknowledges

Related Post

2 thoughts on “Top 10 The Best Excessive Performance Art Pieces”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *