Marina Abrmovic. Serbian/Yugoslavian. Self proclaimed Grandmother of performance art.
Notorious for creating artwork that bravely and dangerously processes/confronts pain and misery through ritual.
In 1974 she performed Rhythm 0 in a gallery space where she sat passive and mute for exactly 6 hours. Near her was a table on which she had laid out 72 objects for inflicting either pleasure or torture. As people filtered through the space a sign informed them that they were allowed to use any of these tools as they willed. At first, the audience was squeamish and reluctant, but as time passed their chosen actions became alltogether more and more aggressive. A knife that was present had been used not only to cut off Abramovic's clothes, but to cut up her naked flesh as well. A gun had been loaded with the single bullet offered and pointed at her head before being pulled away by another participant, resulting in an unnerving argument. When the six hours were up Abramovic suddenly stood and walked towards her audience. They fled like children, apparently filled with an abrupt fear of any actual confrontation. Abramovic later stated that if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed.