Contract With The Skin: Masochism, Performance Art, and the by Kathy O'Dell

By Kathy O'Dell

Having oneself shot. placing out fires with the naked palms and ft. Biting the physique and photographing the marks. stitching one's personal mouth shut--all in entrance of an viewers.

What do a majority of these performances let us know in regards to the social and historic context during which they happened? interesting and accessibly written, Contract with the Skin addresses the query with regards to psychoanalytic and criminal options of masochism. 34 images.

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Extra resources for Contract With The Skin: Masochism, Performance Art, and the 1970s

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This impulse is encouraged by Pane's placement of her own head just inside the frame, precisely where the viewer's would logically be. But the viewer is simultaneously distanced by the reminder that this is, in reality, just a piece of paper on which a photograph is printed. Pane was keenly aware that a performance may ultimately be denned by its photographic image. In response to an interviewer's comment that one of her performance photographs could bear the caption "This is not a cut," Pane said that performance documentation can never express the same thing [as a performance], that is impossible.

Strictly speaking, Trademarks was not a performance work; Acconci never carried out the action before a live audience. Rather, the performance was intended to be reproduced as documentation. 1 The published piece includes a text written by Acconci and a series of photographs of the performance (fig. 4). On the left-hand page are eight photographs of Acconci biting various parts of his body. The photographs are arranged around the edge of the page, forming a sort of frame for a black printed impression of a bite mark in the center.

Talking about Similarity is about both these aspects of the mirror stage—the indeterminacy of identificatory processes and the myth of indeterminacy's nonexistence. That Ulay is a man and Abramovic a woman emphasizes the complexity of the gender-related aspects of these processes. 6 Whether this identificatory process is so embedded in Western culture that it carries over to the viewing of all other types of subject matter is debatable. Less arguable, though, is the idea that the interpretation of an artwork hinges on a symbiotic collusion between economic factors of possession (art is, after all, subject to trade, as Acconci reminds his viewers in Trademarks) and the psychological-epistemological activity of the unconscious mind.

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