What are the ethical implications of Marina Abramović's performances for the audience's participation and what impact does this have on the nature of responsibility?

Maynard, Lee (2015) What are the ethical implications of Marina Abramović's performances for the audience's participation and what impact does this have on the nature of responsibility? BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    In 1975 a pentagram carved into the stomach of Marina Abramović became an iconic image for the history of Performance Art. In the performance Thomas Lips Abramović ate one kilogram of honey followed by d1inking a litre of red wine, she then used a razor blade to cut a five-pointed star into her stomach as a way of representing Christian ritual and themes of repentance. As the piece became more and more radical the audience intervened, the line between the artist and the spectator became blurred. The audience therefore became witnesses rather than spectators and it is this shift in perspective that I initially wanted to investigate. In this dissertation I locate the shift in the audience's role in the historical epoch of the 1960's. I suggest that Performance emerged as a contradictory form of art that had a specific intention that was to resist mainstream art and instead undertake a deconstructive stance. This dissertation considers the nature of responsibility and assesses the role of the spectator in Performance Art. This dissertation include theories such as Phenomenology of Perception (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), The Seriousness of Play (Victor Turner), and The Emancipated Spectator (Jacques Ranciere). Merleau-Ponty identifies the body as the primary site for knowing the world that we live in, and the phenomenon of experience and knowing is central to this dissertation. Phenomenology is essential to the dissertation as Abramović objectifies her body as a way of experiencing the world in and through the body. I argue that Abramović's dramaturgical approach epitomizes the intentions of Performance Art which is to provoke. In Chapter Three I have created an original case study of the audience's engagement with the performance 512 Hours (2014) and I collected my research through questionnaires and online forums. My results show that over 80% of the audience felt like a participant at some point during the exhibition which corresponds with my research into the genealogy of Performance Art. Through engaging in this primary research I have found that the audience are responsible for the signification process and I have discovered that responsibility and ethics are a trope of Abramović's work as she is continuously finding ways of pushing ethical boundaries. The purpose of this dissertation is to locate the transition from Modernism to Postmodernism and the effects the change had on Performance. Through adopting a phenomenological perspective I was able to unpack Abramović's dramaturgical and aesthetical choices in constructing the audience as participants.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2017 14:13
    Last Modified: 08 Feb 2017 14:13
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/22782

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