Thomas Lips, 1975, 1993, 2005




Another outgoing performance art by the eccentric Marina Abramovic was her production of “Thomas Lips” 1975. In this performance art Marina uses a razor blade to cut the shape of a star into her stomach. Marina performs this piece naked laying on a table in front of the audience. Once her cutting was complete, Marina cries in front of the audience and blots her cut with a towel while listening to a Russian folk song. She then laid down on blocks of ice and later would kneel and whip herself repeatedly. Inflicting pain was one of Marina’s signature traits in her developments of performance art. The audience expected nothing less. Once Marina was done with her self inflictions she got up and ate one spoon full of honey and had a glass of red wine and one would think that she was implying the end of a climax with peaceful ending. That was hardly the case when Marina repeated the sequence of events in various order until midnight. The medium and content of this performance art still meets the overall theme of choice for Marina Abramovic’s work in that she will expose no limitations on the manipulations of the body.

In this performance Marina makes several observations become apparent to her audience in a live performance. This has a larger impact on audience because they can actually witness first-hand the self destruction of another human-being, probably less impacting through words than to visualize in real life. In an interview with Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Marina makes her views on pain and self infliction known to the pubic: “There’s no such kind of a logical ending in dealing with pain. I create a structure in which I can go far into the physical limits that a body can take. I don’t want to die. That is not the purpose. I want to experience the edge and how much I can take to this edge.” Marina summarizes her views on pain pretty well throughout this interview and makes it apparent that pain can be looked at through the eyes of art as being beautiful. In this way of thinking I believe that she wants society and her audience to understand that once again art is her ability to influence the way society thinks. It is understandable that one may not be able to change the way someone thinks, but you can at least introduce them to ways of thinking that would be open for interpretation. That is all Marina is trying to accomplish in these performance arts.

This performance relates to some of the neo conceptual styles of Tracey Emin. Tracey is obviously not producing a self inflicting performance art but she uses some of the same styles of erotic material and sexual gesture in her work. This can be especially noted in Tracey Emin’s “My Bed” where a bed is surrounded by condoms, alcohol bottles, blood stains, and other sexual innuendo. It is possible to make relations to other performance art but I would rather emphasize the unique and genuine style of performance that Marina offers. There really weren’t many other performance artists that offered such an exposed performance made available to society to witness.






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



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



Neatherlands Media Art Institute. "Marina Abramovic Biography". 14 Nov. 2009. .

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