How extreme can performance art get? On Sunday, Pyotr Pavlensky nailed his scrotum to a cobblestone in Moscow’s Red Square in protest of political apathy in his country. This coming from a guy who has also reportedly sewn his lips together to protest the jail sentences for the band members of Pussy Riot (also notable Russian performance artists). Obviously, these stunts shock the viewer into reacting. So, tell us, what is your reaction to these famous performance art attention-grabbers?
Iraqi artist Waffa Bilal had a camera implanted on the back of his skull to comment on the nature of surveillance. The images uploaded to his website, where anyone could view the artist’s everyday life.
The Return of the Chocolate-Smeared Woman (1994)
Punk/artist Karen Finley, an American known for work exploring censorship with her body, was herself censored in the ’90s for “decency” issues. Her NEA grant was revoked and her response was the famous “The Return of the Chocolate-Smeared Woman,” which should be self-explanatory.
The Sewing Circle (1992)
This isn’t your grandmother’s quilting group. “The Sewing Circle” is the name of a film by Richard Kern in which NYC hardcore performance legend Kembra Pfahler’s vagina gets sewn together. Critics saw Kern as a misogynist. Women involved saw it differently.
Hiding in the City (2005)
Part street art, part performance, Chinese painter Liu Bolin paints himself as a chameleon, blending in with any surroundings. His work is a cry against a lack of support for art in his native China but also a subtle way to look at the insignificance of the human position in the Chinese political machine.
Franko B. created possibly the most jolting fashion show anyone has ever seen. His piece involves painting his naked body white and slowly traversing a catwalk with his veins cut open at the elbows. Drops of blood careen down his naked arms and onto a canvass below. He goes back and forth, leaving a trail of his own blood.