Naked Vulnerability versus Clothed Reality.
One of the inspirations for this blog is the performance piece Imponderabilia (Galleria Communale d’Arte Moderna, Bologna/ Italy, 1977), created by the Serbian artist Marina Abramović in collaboration with Ulay.
In this piece they flank the entrance of the museum, completely nude, facing each other. People entering the space are forced to squeeze through their bodies. Although Abramović & Ulay expose themselves entirely (naked & vulnerable), the focus of the piece lies in the exploration of the reaction of the public to the performing artists. Not their nudity, but the reaction of the public to this “unexpected” situation draws the attention. The visitor is faced with 2 dilemma’s, whether to enter the gallery or not, and once entering one must decide which artist to face, the male or female figure.
In the video that documents the performance one can observe that no eye contact is made, people pass through rapidly & uncomfortably, and never look back. The unease caused by the deviation of what is considered to be acceptable, transfers the vulnerability from the naked figures to the clothed spectators. The roles are suddenly turned, in which the unusual becomes the usual.
Marina Abramović & Ulay “Imponderabilia” (1977):
Which figure would you turn to while entering the museum, the male or female?
featured image: the Marina Abramović Archives