‘If you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.’
That was artist Marina Abramović’s conclusion after performing ‘Rhythm 0’ in 1974, a piece for which she stood next to 72 objects like a rose, razor blades, an axe, a gun, and a bullet, with a sign informing visitors they could do whatever they liked to her motionless body. Six hours later, Abramović was half-naked, bleeding, and had had a loaded gun pointed at her head. It goes without saying that sometimes, people can display exemplary generosity, compassion, and goodness. They can also shock with their selfishness, betrayal, and cruelty. The twin sides of humanity are innate within each of us—which side rears its head is simply situation-dependent.
For the next 10 days, three Australian performance artists will be at the mercy of their Berlin audience. Since 5th August, the trio has been performing their 240-hour ‘Deliverance’ piece, stationing themselves in a five-by-six-metre space in front of the Platoon Kunsthalle with no shelter, no food, and no clothing. This will be their home for 10 days, and whether they eat three meals a day or none, sleep comfortably at night or shiver on bare ground, bake in the sun or find deliverance from heatstroke—their fate is in your hands.’