Lips of Thomas (1975/2005)
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In the performance 'Thomas Lips', Marina Abramovic undertakes a range of actions that push her physical limits to an extreme and finally result in the transgression of bodily boundaries. She starts off with eating 1 kilo of honey, followed by the consumption of 1 litre of red wine. Then, she breaks the wine glass with her hand. The actions become more violent and masochistic, including, in an image that has become iconic in the history of performance art, cutting a five-pointed star into her stomach with a razor blade.
Referring to various Christian themes and rituals of repentance, the live performance also includes Abramovic whipping herself until she eventually lies down on a cross made out of ice blocks. While a heater is pointed towards her stomach, m…king the cut star bleed, the underside of her body is starting to freeze. In the original 1975 performance, after 30 minutes on the ice blocks, the artist was carried away by members of the audience, who cannot stand the situation any longer. At this point, it becomes clear that in 'Thomas Lips', Abramovic is not only threatening the integrity of her body and, thus, destabilizing the binary opposition between inside and outside, but is also questioning the distinction between public and performer. As in other performances, like 'Rhythm 5', the members of the audience can no longer hide behind their passive status as observers, but are forced to make the decision to intervene.
The 2012 version of the video installation “Thomas Lips” is made up of documentation from her original 1975 performance in Austria and a 2005 performance at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Compared to the earlier version of this installation, which shows only the segment of Abramovic cutting herself with a razor blade, this version documents more of the entire performance with its multiple stages, props, and actions. In a series of still documentary photographs roughly synced with the 2005 channel, the 1975 channel shows Abramovic acting out each part of the performance – consuming honey and wine, cutting herself with a razor blade, self-flagellation, laying on ice blocks, repeat. The second channel is video documentation from her seven-hour 2005 performance, and the real-time registration was edited to this 96' video. This channel also shows Abramovic moving through the same stages of the performance, with some new elements, like the “Young Communist” segment not performed in 1975. Read more...