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If I open my body so that you can see your blood in it, it is for the love of

you. (…) This is why I am so keen on YOUR presence during my actions.
— Gina Pane


The Postmodern Subject, Feminist Multiplicity, and Masochist Performance Art
An artist’s blood drips from her thorn-covered arm and self-slit palm onto a bouquet of
white roses. Another artist is shot point-blank in the arm, as he himself directed his friend to do.
More blood drips from the five-pointed star sliced into one artist’s belly, as she both freezes her
backside and heats the raw wound. In the realm of performance art, the prevalence of
masochistic acts is striking, yet they frequently disturb even those viewers who have become
desensitized to most taboo-breaking actions taken by performance artists. Such disturbance is
often accompanied by a disbelieving questioning; why would these artists physically hurt
themselves, and why in the name of art? The role of these performances can be understood by
examining the lenses through which they are often understood. Performance art is prevalent in
feminist oeuvres, and, even in the work of those who disavow a feminist framework to their art,
performance — particularly when involving masochism — tends to be interpreted in terms of
gender, regardless of the artist’s gender. If masochistic performance lends itself to these
interpretations, it is because it somehow calls up questions or anxieties about gender. Indeed, I
argue here that performance art precipitates a postmodern disruption of Modernism’s coherent
selfhood by always questioning the subject/object opposition, thus participating in the feminist
project of destabilizing the unitary, male subject as the embodiment of power.
In his 1983 article, “The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism,” Craig
Owens describes the structures of Modernist thought, as well as their subversion through the
advent of postmodernist thought. Describing the former, he explains that “The representational

systems of the West... posit the subject of representation as absolutely centered, unitary,
masculine” (Owens 336). This structure allows only one type of subject to be comprehensible, by
nature of its insistence on singularity — on the possibility and desirability of an ultimate and
superior existence. Because Modernist discourse is based also on a Cartesian split between the
subject and the object (Jones 157), this singularity also precludes the possibility of being both
(subject and object) simultaneously, reserving subjecthood for the masculine and objecthood for
the Other, the repressed feminine. By being denied selfhood/agency within patriarchy, the nonmale is made (Lacanian) Other, understanding herself primarily as object/other, while the male is
made to deny his objecthood and to claim his selfhood/agency as absolute and natural. The
unitary (un-split) self is privileged within the patriarchal order. While the denial of the split
nature of the self is always illusory, it is at least attainable in fantasy for the male, who can
conceive of himself as subject and only subject (O’Dell 122). The non-male, however, cannot
attempt to deny her selfhood to maintain an un-split-self-as-object, since to see herself as object
she must be able to see, that is, to be a subject, and so her understanding of herself as object
immediately forces a revised understanding of herself as subject-object (Jones 122). Thus, the
structure of Modernist thought imposes incomprehensibility on the (feminine) subject-object and
represses it, holding aloft the unitary (male) subject, whose objecthood has also been repressed.
In a disruption of this, “postmodern work attempts to upset the reassuring stability of that
mastering position” (Owens 336). It breaks down the very possibility of singularity, reasserting
the inherent simultaneity of subjecthood and objecthood by revealing these aspects of the self as
unconsolidated and multiple, but not dialectically split.

or reported by anyone present at any point during the performance. she denies any appearance of subjecthood. She placed seventy-two items—as varied as blue paint. During the performance she was alternately caressed. flute. Not only does she allow the audience to use her body as an object. a gun. perfume. but she also refuses to personally engage with them. criticized. Initially during the six-hour performance. and wire—on a table along with a sign instructing the audience to use the items any way they wanted. needles. chains. Abramović. a feather. Here she assumed a passive role. however. once again engaged and approached the audience. The subversive effect of this work thus becomes elucidated by its very end. What was so horrifying about this point of the performance so as to elicit this reaction? Certainly. blindfolded. who had been detached and unresponsive during the entire performance. At the end of the six hours. all the while remaining passive. This was performed at Studio Morra. nails. members of the audience were passive and calm..Perhaps the most dramatic example of the subjective objecthood is Marina Abramović’s notorious work. This complicity. a bullet. but they became more aggressive as the night wore on.” Abramović blatantly places herself in the position of ‘object’ to be acted upon. even through eye contact. “I am the object. Naples. While the structure of the performance is of her own design.” they flee. and was threatened with the gun. When Abramović “once again engage[s] and approache[s] the audience.. written on. Rhythm 0. flowers. she seemingly surrenders her agency during the 6-hour period. which quickly dispersed once the power had shifted. some of the audience members may have feared repercussions for their own actions or for not stopping the violent actions of others. in 1974. (Heartney 107-8). could have been recognized. alcohol. ! It should be noted that the sign instructing the audience to use the objects “on [her] as desired” next bore the phrase. a whip. chained. What about Abramović’s reawakening marked that moment as entirely more worrisome for those present? I contend that it was the reintroduction of subjectivity into what . had her shirt torn off.

Contact With The Skin: Masochism. (O’Dell 19) ! In Rhythm 0. is seen and is heard. feminist body art works produce the female artist as both body and mind. as well as Kathy O’Dell in her book. Body artworks. Performance Art.had been viewed entirely as an object. It is precisely this kind of indeterminate thinking. an entity that simultaneously sees and hears. like Rhythm 0. O’Dell draws on Lacanian theory to elucidate the impact of such work on the viewer’s own conception of the self: The viewer is reminded of the delicate balancing act that takes place during the early moments of the mirror stage. then having that object reveal its undeniable subjectivity. causing terror and the impulse to run away. retrievable through reminiscences of the mirror stage and the concept of the ‘split self. juxtaposing the notions that one’s body is both a subject and an object. recalls Lacan’s mirror stage — the self being split.’ that can break up rigid perceptions of the body. Jones. created a fear for audience members that went far deeper than that of being caught or punished. The impossibility within Modernist thought of such a subjective objecthood. and the 1970s. of having experienced objecthood as a subject. Abramović’s display of objecthood and subsequent assertion of subjecthood. of the experience of being an object. help in the postmodern and feminist project of deconstructing the subject-object split in the conception of the self. both describe the work of performance artists in relation to this recognition of the body as subject-object. Abramović destabilized for her audience the very coherence of a unitary self. understood as both object and subject — while simultaneously subverting that split. By asking the audience to act upon a body as purely an object for hours. subverting the Cartesian separation of cogito and corpus that sustains the masculinist myth of male transcendence” (Jones 157). “As I interpret them. recognizing .

Cheating death was never the intent.22 rifle. he insists. to reveal his inherent and coexisting objecthood — is then also to (re)introduce contingency into the subject. Chris Burden’s artistic career has been rife with masochistic performance. in fact. even when enacted against himself. Burden is revealed as contingent in two ways. an implied and necessary “contingency on others” (Jones 122). First. “I was trying to think about a big fear. who essentially treated his body as a sculptural material to be reshaped by the bullet’s passage. There is. his bodily existence is exposed as contingent on physical circumstances.” The extreme act defined Burden’s career but to some seemed inexplicable.” recalls Burden. to doodle it out. if not entirely deranged.1 To disrupt the structure that reifies the fantasy of man’s ‘pure’ subjecthood — that is. both to perform and to view the act. they are. “Rather than turn from it.” (West) ! Through Shoot. and there was a smoking hole in my arm. both as director of that violence. . his artistic creation is dependent on others. and so the ‘artist’ as such is contingent on their cooperation and participation. the piece could not be simpler or more radical: Burden called a group of friends into a gallery to watch an assistant shoot him with a .” says Burden. “The bullet went into my arm and went out the other side. quite contingent. Second. and on others to ensure (or deny) his safety. both audacious and subtle. was carefully rehearsed to minimize the chance of more serious injury. to eke something out of it. a moment of both personal experience and fleshy materiality.the subjecthood and objecthood as ultimately part of the same moment of being. I was trying to face it. The artist counters that the piece. An exhibition of this contingency exists within performance art. based on their presentation of a male subject who controls violence and bodies. instead. and in terms of 1 As one without agency — one who cannot act — the relations an object has with the surrounding world cannot be assumed to be of the object’s own making. “It was really disgusting. within the passivity of the non-male’s prescribed role as object. This and other works of Burden are often criticized as “reiterat[ing] normative codes of masculine artist-astranscendent” (Jones 132). but his most infamous remains Shoot: Performed in 1971 during the height of the Vietnam War.

does not seem a desirable objective” (Irigaray 32). as well as objecthood into subjecthood more generally. especially in the economy of sexuality. despite the frequent reception of Burden’s work as reiterating masculine norms. If the existing power structure . she says.” which. Thus. which forces deconstruction of the self through revealing not only Burden’s subjective objecthood. as well as what Amelia Jones refers to as “intersubjectivity. a commodity. nor can she understand through its language her own pleasure. the master is not necessarily well served.” Responding to and drawing on the work of Lacan and other psychoanalysts.. In that way. Irigaray describes the existing masculine economy as one in which “woman” cannot be represented. it effectively operates toward the dissolution of the Modernist subject by the introduction of contingency into artistic subjecthood.withstanding that violence in a way that displays strength and impenetrability. in other words. She describes the few powers that women are given within this system as “the powers of slaves. I would counter that the sense of control and heroic triumph that emerges from these pieces is vastly overwhelmed by the horrific confrontation of Burden’s fleshy reality. moreover. “are not negligible powers. How can this object of transaction claim a right to pleasure without removing her/itself from established commerce?” (Irigaray 31-32). an exchange value among men. in which the singularity of power structures described in Freudian psychoanalysis is replaced by an entirely new mode of thought.. Thus to reverse the relation. but the viewer’s as well. Irigaray attempts to establish a new paradigm of thought. “This Sex Which Is Not One. as presented by Luce Irigaray in her essay. For where pleasure is concerned. “For woman is traditionally a use-value for man.” can best be understood through first exploring the concept of multiplicity. The importance of this contingency. his work is feminist in its impact.

and processural (rather than static or finite). Performance works break down the coherence of the “centered. but they decenter the subject. to be fully satisfied. This form of thought came to be embodied in the work of artists who “insist[ed] on the intersubjective.. This conception of pleasure and of power as plural. more multiple in its differences. highly invested. even if entirely inverted. but also the very structures of society and the possibilities of their alternatives: meaning. then an entirely new system. Irigaray explores female sexuality. She finds “her pleasure” to be ”far more diversified. unitary. multiplying subjectivities through the multiplication and complication of the source(s) of meaning. establishes a new frame of reference from which to understand not only sex and sexuality. Not only do they reveal the impossibility of pure. value — all of these change radically through the lens of Irigaray’s new paradigm of multiplicity. and masculine” Modern subject through a multiplicity that recalls Irigaray’s. autonomous subjecthood (and hence of a “unitary” subject). Body Art: Performing the Subject.cannot allow woman to know and experience her own pleasure.. What she finds is plurality. than is commonly imagined—in an imaginary rather too narrowly focused on sameness” (Irigaray 28). a new mode of thought and of existence. more subtle. must be established. and always multiplying. of identifying herself with none of them in particular. Amelia Jones elucidates in her book. power. more complex. irreducible. looking to its rhythms and structures as a model. A sort of expanding universe to which no limits could be fixed and which would not be incoherence nonetheless” (Irigaray 31).” (Jones 103). how the . success. In an attempt to begin to construct this new paradigm. This leads Irigaray to consider “the possibility of sacrificing no one of her pleasures to another. and an incompatibility with singularity or staticity. of never being simply one.

she first enacts a swaying motion with the bouquet. however. then of white. An exposition of Pane’s work at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes describes the piece thus: Performed at the Diagramma Gallery in Milan in 1973. whether during the performance or afterward (through its documentation). enacted November 9. “Azione sentimentale” is Gina Pane’s most well renowned performance. Passant progressivement de la station debout à la position fœtale. In body art. as originating from the author. la blessure évoquant les pétales et l’avant-bras représentant la tige de la fleur. « Azione sentimentale » est l’action la plus célèbre de Gina Pane. Her arm thus transforms into a rose. Son bras se transforme alors en rose. the artist enacted the same sequence twice.methods of body artists2 in particular work to subvert Modernist conceptions of artistic meaning as static and. puis de roses blanches. the wounds evoking the petals and her forearm representing the flower stem. Passing gradually from standing upright to the fetal position. avec pour accessoire un bouquet de roses rouges. before driving rose thorns into her arm and making an incision with a razor blade in the palm of her hand. 3 My translation from the French: “Accomplie à la Galerie Diagramma à Milan en 1973. avant de s’enfoncer les épines d’une rose dans le bras et de pratiquer une incision avec une lame de rasoir dans la paume de sa main.” . but on how their meaning can possibly be interpreted given the composition of the 2 Jones uses the term “body art” specifically and intentionally. body art also opens the embodied other (as interpretive self) to the artist. each projects onto the other—each taking its place there as subject while simultaneously authorizing the other as subject” (Jones 106). 1973.3 (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes 3) ! Interpretations of this work have focused not merely on the physical acts and harm that Pane enacts. Devant un public exclusivement féminin. importantly. It is endlessly interpretable by those who have some relationship to the piece. as she feels it places a necessary emphasis on the body as present in and central to the work. explores the intersubjective nature of meaning through the reception of its restriction of the audience to females. In front of an exclusively female audience. elle exécute d’abord un mouvement de va-et-vient avec le bouquet. “By opening the embodied artist/subject to the other. use her term and “performance art” interchangeably. the meaning is created in the interactions and relation of the artist and audience. l’artiste répète deux fois la même séquence. I. Body artist Gina Pane’s performance Sentimental Action. with a bouquet first of red roses.

(Jones 5) ! Jones’ notion of intersubjectivities falls within the discourses of postmodernism and feminist multiplicity. ethnic. could never be art (according to a popular theory. could only be subject. unchanging. which is revealed as not only contingent. transcendent. or other particularities of this body/self. simply because the demographics are perceived as unusually different from those of the larger society. with definite and delimited intention/meaning. reveals in the end that the audience is relevant to the construction of meaning in any and all performances. By exaggeratedly performing the sexual. and presence of this body/self but its radical interdependence with the other” (Jones 107). which. as it was understood at the time. and. The artist is thus removed from the seat of ultimate power in the creation of meaning. Subjectivity and art-meaning would be further revolutionized by future performance . The fact that the demographics of the audience are seen as central to this work’s meaning.” 1967). the feminist or otherwise nonnormative body artist even more aggressively explodes the myths of disinterestedness and universality that authorize these conventional modes of evaluation. gender. unity. the body artist strategically unveils the dynamic through which the artistic body is occluded (to ensure its phallic privilege) in conventional art history and criticism. but dependent on and created by multiple subjects. By surfacing the effects of the body as an integral component (a material enactment) of the self. Early (pre-1970s) performance art was revolutionary in its positing of the body as involved in art— the body. presented by Michael Fried in “Art and Objecthood. could be art.audience. and it reveals in them the method by which artistic practice can embody or subvert these theories. Through this decentering of authority. “The presentation of the body/self in body art marks not the immediacy. work like Pane’s Sentimental Action has the potential to eroticize the interpretive relation to radical ends by insisting on the intersubjectivity of all artistic production and reception. and static. as non-object. To see a subject as the art-piece in itself or in its acts was to subvert the claim that only the passive.

. but also subject as object. and above all ‘interested. or any body. existing in a constant oscillation between these two (O’Dell 7-8. particularities. which still continue to read works of art (body art or otherwise) by imputing presumably intentionally embedded meanings to them and inferring a full subjectivity at their ‘origin’ (the artist) as well as at their ‘destination’ (the interpreter herself). performance art. and vulnerabilities) would also entail a radical revision of the broader understanding of postmodern culture and of subjectivity and identity in the most profound sense. In such work. which.artworks. Jones explains the radical nature of involving the viewer. Jones elaborates on how the nature of this multiplicity in body art forces a total reconsideration of not only art world practices. Through its basis in intersubjective meaning. the literalist4 work breaks the primary rule ensuring the authority of modernist criticism. in artistic meaning-creation through Fried’s work. we recall. legitimates itself as ‘truthful’ through its claim to the disinterestedness of aesthetic judgement. dramatically more so than Minimalist art. contingent. which would reveal that body art posits not only subject as art-piece (and thus artistic meaning as non-static).. as inhabiting a paradigm of multiplicity. Such a feminist phenomenological engagement (one that acknowledges our own contingency. the role of subjectivity and relation in meaning-creation is made unavoidably obvious. The acknowledgment of the viewer exposes her or his relationship to the object as one that is specific. (Jones 235-36) 4 A term coined by Michael Fried in the above-mentioned essay to describe minimalist art. which was decried for its positing of the viewer’s experience of the piece as the source of meaning. The literalist work is disquieting in that it is uncontainable and not purely present in itself’” (Jones 112). Jones 112). enacts this destabilizing multiplication of meaning. but identity itself: We can engage with [body art works] to rethink the premises of art critical and art historical discourse. it reveals as well the work’s meaning as continual and fluctuating — that is. Because work that involves the viewer or the body reveals in itself an impossibility of completeness.. “Acknowledging the viewer.

with eight photos of his contorted body surrounding an image of a bite-mark print on one page. (O’Dell 17) ! The resulting pictures were presented in the magazine Avalanche as a two-page layout. Acconci’s . Repeatedly. through its insistence on subjectivity existing within both the artist and the viewer. is not by the words he displays beside the images. singular. a contemporary of the other artists mentioned here. and authoritative to the realm of contingency and multiplicity. In that very act. radically redefines the nature of the subject. and shoulders. Vito Acconci enacted a series of contorted poses in front of a camera. Trademarks is not. it is by the visceral act of biting. the bites left impressions of his teeth. It is the body itself which claims the body. Vito Acconci. but an object claiming an objecthood. In addition to causing pain. moving it from static. The method of his declaration.” Such a claim seems to be enacted by his subjective existence. alongside poetic text in which he describes his intentions during the work (O’Dell 17). the facing page displayed an image of an actual bite-mark on his body. Acconci then covered these indentations with printers’ ink and used them to stamp various surfaces. This was performed privately and only once. imposing on his body. thereby producing signs of the body’s attack on itself—the “trademarks” that give this performance its title. a subject claiming an objecthood. The object makes a claim on itself. his objecthood. Some of the text reveals his desire to “Stake a claim on what I have. however.! Performance art. with the intent that only its documentation would be made public. Sitting naked on the floor of a photographer friend’s loft one day in 1970. then. interrogated this redefinition of identity through a work entitled Trademarks. Acconci folds subjecthood and objecthood into one another. through its recognition of both as the (plural) origins of meaning in art. legs. but by claiming it asserts itself as subject. he twisted his body and craned his neck as he bit deeply into his arms.

never the represented. of an un-split subject-objecthood. but also an instance of postmodern thought. They can be only an image. Paraphrasing Heidegger.)” (Owens 337). I would argue that not only is feminist emphasis on difference “an instance of postmodernist thought” (341). By deconstructing the subject. or. “Excluded from representation by [Modernism’s] very structure. and hence also the very radical nature of disrupting the formulation of the female body as always and only object and. by recognizing the simultaneity and non-hierarchical nature of difference. by decentering authority. never a subject — always the representation. In this frame of thought. so that man may have stable representation. women are unrepresentable as subjects. then culminates in his assertion of a simultaneous subjecthood and objecthood. Truth. they return within it as a figure for—a representation of—the unrepresentable (Nature. Owens connects the methods of feminism and postmodernism through their shared desire to radicalize the subject in just this way. but that postmodernism itself is a feminist project. Hence “the masculine desire to fix the woman in a stable and stabilizing identity” (Owens 349). To expand on his claim.. Owens explains that “for modern man. by multiplying meaning. particularly. 440). He claims “that women’s insistence on difference and incommensurability may not only be compatible with. whether or not it is selfconsciously so.attempt to claim his bodily presence as his own.” that “the kind of simultaneous activity on multiple fronts that characterizes many feminist practices is a postmodern phenomenon” (Owens 339. etc. the Sublime. of destabilizing and multiplying the meaning of such representations.. postmodern projects . because. more accurately. as belonging to himself as a subject. the world exists only in and through a subject who believes that he is producing the world in producing its representation” (Owens 342).

and performer of an artistic practice” (Vergine 196). objecthood. If. O’Dell discusses the arguments of American literary theorist. For him. without the use of masochism specifically. For Bersani. to become a rigidly defined self would mean being actually . the very performativity of body art can allow this recognition to be ephemeral. through the means described above — as Gina Pane succinctly puts it. and multiplicity into subjecthood. The performances explored here clearly work toward the reintroduction of contingency. through “The body. “Bersani even suggests that there is a benefit to these masochistic distractions: they remind viewers of their relation to real violence in the everyday world. Bersani regards the viewer’s engagement in fantasy as a form of continual self-shattering that resists the identificatory closure suggested by the rigid narrative structure of most art and literature. of the mind. or of life itself” (O’Dell 5). They move toward a new paradigm — one much like that envisioned by Luce Irigaray — one which breaks away from the consolidating regime of (masculine) singularity to allow for a continually expanding multiplicity.— even those which reiterate representations that are oppressive to non-males — are breaking down not only the primacy of the masculine. I argue that it is for this reason specifically that masochism has played such a conspicuous role in the body of performance art works. material. but the structures which allowed for any primacy to begin with. by the possibility of denying its reality outside of the time and space contained in the performance itself. however. This project thus seems possible through performance art generally. performance art in general forces the recognition of the artist (and so of the viewer as well) as both subject and object simultaneously. which is at the same time project. with regard to masochistic fantasy in general. Leo Bersani. this imaginary fragmentation is enough to offset the possibility of an actual shattering of the body.

’ because the absolute reality of self-inflicted bodily harm cannot be denied. At least one purpose of this repression. is not enough. it is for the love of you. In O’Dell’s words. They also involve its history and. invulnerable and vulnerable. no matter how much fantasy such theatrics employed. “In the work of [masochistic] performance artists.. fantasy risks becoming a frivolous avoidance of the vicissitudes of daily sociopolitical relations in which violence is routinely meted out” (O’Dell 5). (…) This is why I am so keen on YOUR presence during my actions” [ellipses in original] (Pane 14).. Thus Gina Pane’s melancholic. especially.” but to continually shatter one’s selfhood in fantasy refuses that possibility by creating a dynamicity and by denying the presence of a coherent “self” to shatter. . without applying those instabilities to their understandings of their own real existences. But these patterns are not restricted to the viewing of art. the audience’s attention could never wander far from the reality of the artists’ self-tortured bodies” (O’Dell 5). O’Dell contests the idea that fantasy is sufficient.. Being “looped back” from fantasy to the body precludes the possibility of dismissing confrontations as ‘not real. To be confronted with a simultaneous subject-objecthood in performance. All masochistic performance work comments on traditional art by confounding patterns of repression experienced in viewing traditional art. particularly when seen in person.. O’Dell continues on to describe how masochistic performance art denies this possibility. is to set up conditions for the transcendence of the viewer. yearning expression of love for her audiences: “If I open my body so that you can see your blood in it. then. “Unless fantasy continually loops individuals back to the materiality of the human body and to an understanding of its complexity as both subject and object.shatterable “in the world. the way in which art and art history construct one another. as the audience can use this space as one of fantasy — as merely a means of negotiating contradictions or instabilities within their own subconscious conceptions of the self.

rather. ignoring the viewer relation to the artist or the relation of the artist’s and viewer’s bodies becomes an impossibility. reveals to the subject its already fragmented nature. It breaks down the myth of unitary self. rendering it quite visibly and emphatically also object — refuses the possibility of . as reifying the unreal (and also a denial of fantasy as the site of a merely temporary negotiation of the subject-object relationship — itself contradictory for the Cartesian subject — to avoid the reality of these negotiations within the body). Their use of masochism — of the subject causing harm to itself. without possibility of escape through fantasy or illusion. it is the extreme reality of masochistic performance which emphasizes the absolute impossibility of transcendence. the absolute necessity of being both these things. through the brutal assertion of the mind’s potency being essentially embodied. or. due to its being palpably achieved through not fantasy. Performance art like the works described here revolutionize the Modernist subject — Abramović’s Rhythm 0. by revealing a body that both acts and is acted on. a body whose subjecthood and objecthood are inextricably entangled. in unearthing the intersubjective sources of artistic meaning. (O’Dell 67-68) ! In masochistic performance. Pane’s Sentimental Action.Masochistic performance has the potential to deconstruct these conditions and the art forms for which they exist by making viewer relations obvious—painfully obvious. by implicating the audience in her objecthood and then confronting them so undeniably with her subjecthood. Burden’s Shoot. and fragments the subject. While performance art generally reveals the body as subject-object. and Acconci’s Trademarks. The possibility of transcending to a fictional space beyond the obvious materiality of that which is being viewed is thereby compromised. but reality. by showing it its simultaneous objecthood. The very operation of masochistic art is just that— a denial of fantasy as the transcendent. through violently revealing the precarious state of human contingency.

be it of meaning. which operate through relations to each other. or reality itself. and to acknowledge a multiple power that by its very existence breaks down any stability they had imagined within singularity — thus within any kind of ultimacy. rather than to a center. often with extreme difficulty and discomfort. masculine” Modernist subject. we must recognize that they participate forcefully in the project of constructing new paradigms of (inter)subject(-object)hood. ethicality. sometimes even visceral repulsion. “centered. violent and playful. autonomous. to confront subject-objecthood. divinity. which defy the rigid dialectic of binary gender. operating at all times to deconstruct the authoritative. as they are often seen. leaving in its place intersubjectivities. which are ecstatically contingent and dynamic. Masochistic performance art thus operates within the postmodern.escaping this deconstruction’s implications. unitary. These works are not solely destructive. to confront their own contingency (and thus mortality). The viewer is forced. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! . feminist paradigm of multiplicity. truth.

Rhythm 0 .! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Figure 1.Marina Abramovic .1974 .

Chris Burden . Shoot .! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Figure 2.1971 .

Gina Pane . Azione sentimentale (Sentimental Action) .1973 .! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Figure 3.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Figure 4. Trademarks .Vito Acconci .1970 .

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