Lips of Thomas (1975/1993) 1975
Marina Abramovic, 1975, 9'54''

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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 performance first took place in 1975 at the Krinzinger Gallery in Innsbruck, Austria, and it was repeated in 1993 as part of a series of performances around Europe and the United States. The only thing visible in this video registration from 1975 is the constantly repeating image of the star that Abramovic is cutting into her stomach. This video and a similar registration from the 1993 performance form the basis of a two-channel sculptural installation 'Thomas Lips', shown on monitors that are placed on top of each other. 'Thomas Lips' was also performed in 2005 in New York at the Guggenheim, and another version of the installation registration was made in 2012.

  • Date: 1975
  • Length: 9'54''
  • Type: Channel
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: performance (artwork genre), body art
  • Keywords: registration (technique), art, artist, violence, installation - sculpture