Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Marina Abramovic: Rhythm 0: A Terrifying Perspective On What We Teach Our Children

Remember when most of us were children, and when faced with mean kids or bullies in school, the first thing any adult would say is, 'Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt."


You know what? I call bullshit! Words hurt as much as sticks and stones and sometimes they cut just a bit deeper. When you're an adult, you learn not to care so much about the opinions of the outside world. There are always opinions. As a child you may not be able to let go so easily. We try and teach our kids violence is not the way and to 'turn the other cheek', we tell them a million things that we hope will soothe bruised egos, hurt feelings, and in some cases, black eyes. While you are teaching your child that violence is never the answer, to ignore the name calling, to pretend nothing happened when a bully pushes them onto the ground; another parent is teaching their child aggressive behavior, turning a blind eye to their child's bullying, and making excuses for their child to continue to torture your child every day of their academic lives. You know what this is doing for YOUR child? It is turning them into a bigger target, it is attracting more bullies, and it is NOT teaching them to stand up for themselves. If your kid hits mine, I can almost guarantee my kid will be hitting yours back. If you think my logic is flawed, check out this experiment that Marina Abramovic has done to show the world how quickly people are to harm someone they KNOW will not defend themselves, and how quickly they turn to cowards when approached by confrontation. Children that exude passive aggressive behavior without confronting problems head on, in my opinion, become targets of bullying adults when they are adults. I have come across many bullied adults in my adult life and I have always been the bystander that will intervene. While I know the point of her experiment had nothing to do with children whatsoever, keep an open mind, read the ENTIRE experiment, and then ask yourself, is this not the epitome of 'people only doing to US what we ALLOW them to DO'!

(ARTICLE AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF JohnDopp.com)

In 1974, artist Marina Abramović staged a performance art piece titled Rhythm 0. She stood motionless in an art gallery for exactly 6 hours. To the side stood a table bearing dozens of objects, each selected for their associations with pain or pleasure: a whip, honey, grapes, a feather, knives, lipstick, a camera, a scalpel, a rose, a gun… and a single bullet.

A placard on the table described the performance.
Rhythm 0 INSTRUCTIONS
There are 72 objects on the table that can be used on me as desired.
PERFORMANCE
I am the object. During this time I take full responsibility.
Rhythm 0 - Marina AbramoviAbramovićAudience members were modest and timid at first, repositioning her arms, using the items nervously.
Then they became more bold. They placed objects on her. They took pictures of her and posed her with the photographs. They played with her body.
Then they became aggressive. They poured oil on her head. They pricked her with the thorns of the rose. They cut her clothing. They cut her. One participant actually licked her blood.
Marina Abramović at gunpointThey carried her around the room half-naked, then put her on a wooden table and stabbed a knife into the table between her legs.
One participant put a bullet in the gun and pointed it at her head, and held it there, finger on the trigger, until another audience member eventually pushed the gun away.
Throughout the performance, Abramović remained passive. She later described it as six hours of horror: “If you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.”
Rhythm 0 - Marina AbramovicAt the end of the six hours, the curator announced that the performance was concluded. Abramović stood up, tears in her eyes, blood dripping from her neck, and walked towards the audience.
The audience scattered. Nobody wanted to confront the active, animated version of the passive figure they had been abusing.
For me, this performance art is a powerful demonstration of what happens when people are given the message that it’s acceptable to denigrate a human being. Humanity is cruelest when presented with a passive victim, and that’s why would-be oppressors first seek to silence their targets.
Let’s face an unpleasant and inescapable fact: empathy is not humanity’s default mode of operation. Left to its own entropy, a culture inevitably loses its grip on compassion and descends into hatred and oppression.
It takes dedicated effort to counter that descent.
In recent years, a series of high-profile incidents have helped to peel back the veneer of the tech, publishing, and gaming industries, revealing the squirming rot at their core. In each case, these incidents would have been ignored had it not been for people with the courage to speak out and confront the abusers, to push back against the idea that it’s okay to demean others.
As Abramović’s performance 40 years ago shows, society will always do its worst to a passive victim. But when the abusers find that their victim is no longer a passive object, that she’s stepping forward to confront them face to face, their taste for confrontation suddenly vanishes.

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