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Chilling moment things went wrong after artist allowed spectators to do whatever they wanted for six hours

Chilling moment things went wrong after artist allowed spectators to do whatever they wanted for six hours

Marina Abramović is one of the world's most renowned performance artists

Warning: This article contains discussion of rape which some readers may find distressing.

Performance artists Marina Abramović still shocks people with her work to this day - but perhaps one of her most daring artistic endeavours was back in 1974.

77-year-old Serbian artist Marina, began to gain notoriety in 1973 following her performance 'Rhythm 10' which consisted of her rapidly stabbing knives into a surface below her splayed fingers. Ultimately, Marina ended up with a lot of cuts, but had made her name as a daring conceptual artist.

But it was a performance in 1974 that still sends chills down spines when people hear of it - with one art critic who was in attendance sparing no detail on what he witnessed.

The performance was called 'Rhythm 0'.

Marina Abramović. (John Snelling/Getty Images)
Marina Abramović. (John Snelling/Getty Images)

It was a six-hour long piece of 'endurance art' and consisted of Marina standing still, having invited the audience to do 'whatever they wished' to her.

There were 72 objects placed on a table which attendees were free to use - including a rose, feather, honey, grapes, wine, scissors, a scalpel, nails, a metal bar, a gun, and a bullet.

There was a note at the scene which read: "There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired. Performance. I am the object... during this period I take full responsibility."

Marina later stated that the point was to see how far people would go.

She said: "What is the public about and what are they going to do in this kind of situation?"

'Rhythm 0' has gained notoriety. (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
'Rhythm 0' has gained notoriety. (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

It began rather politely, with people opting for the rose or to kiss her on the cheek.

Thomas McEvilley, an art critic who watched the events unfold, recounted: "It began tamely. Someone turned her around. Someone thrust her arms into the air."

But then things began to take a very dark turn.

McEvilley continued: "Someone touched her somewhat intimately. The Neapolitan night began to heat up.

"In the third hour all her clothes were cut from her with razor sharp blades.

"In the fourth hour the same blades began to explore her skin. Her throat was slashed so someone could suck her blood.

The artist said: "I am the object." (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
The artist said: "I am the object." (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

"Various minor sexual assaults were carried out on her body. She was so committed to the piece that she would not have resisted rape or murder.

"Faced with her abdication of will, with its implied collapse of human psychology, a protective group began to define itself in the audience.

"When a loaded gun was thrust to Marina's head and her own finger was being worked around the trigger, a fight broke out between the audience factions."

Marina later added: "What I learned was that ... if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.

"I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away.

"It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation."

Despite the violence of the performance, Marina's dedication to art was recognised and in 2013, Rhythm 0 was declared the ninth all-time best piece of performance art pieces by Complex.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 500 222, available 24/7. If you are currently in danger or need urgent medical attention, you should call 999.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/@marinaabramovicinstitute869/John Snelling/Getty Images

Topics: Real Life, Life, True Life