Marina Abramovic during her "Rythm 0" perfomance

"I am afraid our eyes are bigger than our bellies, and that we have more curiosity than capacity; for we grasp at all, but catch nothing but wind."

In “Of Cannibals”, Michel de Montaigne questions Europe’s judgement of the Native American cannibals, for if they are barbarians, so is Europe. The accusation of barbarism backfires, applying to the accusers too. That which disgusts Europe as a display of spiritual poverty and cruelty beyond compare has been constant in European history.

This blog’s first entry was a set of notes on an episode of Vinos & Conservas in which we had discussed, among other issues, the conservative attempt to set objective artistic standards and institutionally enforce them.

Performative art is one of the most often disqualified disciplines. And, by denying performance art their status, one is denying the possibility of art as ritual.

On the other hand, the rejection of blood, feces and other repugnant elements is also, somehow, the rejection of art as ritual, and the rejection of the display of limit experiences, it’s the proposal of a safe, joyful art that doesn’t pierce the spectator where it hurts, that doesn’t argue, that doesn’t provoke, it’s the proposal of an art without teeth.

When tracing this link between the ritualistic and the contact with bodily fluids, I’m using the examples cited by Cynthia Freeland in her “Very short introduction” to Art Theory, which begins with a section on blood, feces and the art-rituals of aboriginal tribes around the globe. Taking us back to the Western canon, she notes:

"Such rituals are not altogether alien to the European tradition: there is a lot of blood in its two primary lineages, the Judaeo-Christian and the Greco-Roman. (...) Renaissance paintings showed the blood or lopped heads of martyrs; Shakespeare's tragedies typically concluded with swordplay and stabbings."

To the reactionary, who might love Shakespeare and loathe Abramovic, what’s the difference between the two? The most common, predictable answer would be: prowess. Shakespeare is recognized as a prodigious writer, what Abramovic does, the reactionary would argue, requires “no talent”.

To this ridiculousness, one can respond in all or any of the three following manners (and none else!):

  1. Art is anything you can get away with.
  2. What Marina does could have occured to you, but it didn’t.
  3. Why don’t you try yourself?

"The right is getting better at conceptual art, and it's making the left nervous"

If we are to interpret Yiannopoulo’s “ANGEL MOM” (which, like most of what Yiannopoulos does, easily passes as unsubstantial shock), we can start with the pig blood. We’ve got a man inside a bathtub filled with pig blood, surrounded by pictures of victims of crimes perpatrated by immigrants. Throughout the performance, Yiannopoulos toys with the blood and splashes it on the pictures, which he later caresses. The pig blood is not that of the victims, it can’t be: It’s that of the perpetrators. Yiannopoulos calls for bloody revenge.

Oh, well, no, he doesn’t. The conceptual poverty is outstanding:

"Drenched in the blood of innocents, MILO urges the viewer to consider the suffering wrought by globalist, Left-wing immigration policies, lax policing and the obsessive pandering and mollycoddling of Islam by progressive social justice warriors."

Caressing yourself while smoking and toying with the blood of the innocent, which you later splash on their own photographs isn’t a way to condemn their murderers and honor them. The alt-right can’t art. For further proof, check this link.