Rhythm 10, 1973


“Rhythm 10” by Marina Abramovic was first presented in Edinburgh in 1973. This performance art definitely lives up to the expectations and environment of art Marina Abramovic creates. In her performance she has a sheet of white paper, twenty knives, and two cassette recorders. Marina will kneel down, play her cassette recorder, pick up each knife one by one and keep stabbing the knife over and over again down towards her left hand until she cuts herself with every knife. Marina will carry out the sequence again and finish the video installation with a playback of the dual rhythm on her recorded cassette. This game derived from Russia and Abramovic had always been a displayer of ritual and gesture. The reason Marina repeats a second sequence of the stabbings is because she wants to display the need for the mistakes to be replicated, or to cancel out. It is an interesting piece of work that Marina Abramovic allows the society to view. The self infliction of pain is still the main theme that most viewers will take away from this piece, but there is another message in the material the artist is portraying. Marina Abramovic’s main purpose of the performance was the effort to make one notice the attempt of joining the present with the past. This is made apparent in her imperfections of linking the second wave of stabbings perfectly with the first.

There are probably hundreds of different messages and meanings that could be taken from Rhythm 10. Abramovic has several strong themes that are usually evident to most of her audience. She shows her ability to be consciously in taking pain while always attempting to conquer the fear of death. Her art performance in this instance could even be inspirational to some. Various audiences could consider Marina’s mental, emotional, and physical numbness to be typical behavior in situations that she portrays. Society wants to believe in what they think is normal, but once again Marina Abramovic uses her compassion for pushing her body to the limit to show the simple comparison of present and past. It gives society no choice but to accept there are even artistic messages that can be taken from self mutilation.

I think it goes without saying that Marina Abramovic’s “Rhythm 10” and many of her other works have their strongest roots in the styles and traits of the avant-garde. In the early 1970’s Marina couldn’t of possibly known the reaction to society her extreme performance arts would produce. She was very experimental at first and could only hope her deep desire to express art in possibly the most extreme way in nineteenth century would be successful. Her experimentation and alternative way of producing video installations and performance art were indeed successful. Marina Abramovic could be compared to Jackson Pollock in the comparison of their great contributions to the introduction of new groups, movements, and styles to art. Jackson Pollock was to abstract expressionism as Marina Abramovic was to installation and video art.





Archer, Michael. Art since 1960 new edition. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1994.



Heartney, Eleanor. Art & Today. New York, NY: Phaidon Press Inc, 2008.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I remember when I studied my Ritual
    modules in my Joint Hons BA Drama and Performance and Physical Theatre back in 2004 studying her and having to emulate or try to her Ritualistic Behaviour and I knew she reminded me of the pain and power of her performance pieces and also we studied Pina Bausch in Dance and Frida Khalo all incredible women who suffered so much pain physically and mentally I was so inspired by them about'making their mark' which they
    all have and many other female artists including Cindy Sherman and Rebecca Horn and Bobby Brown a continuing theme of ritual and pain smiling inside through both so courageous and brave so full of awe for their art, and so many artists whom are all
    not as well known as male artists we need to promote these hidden gems and embrace both women and male artists alike so over due!!!

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