Performance artist Marina Abramovic's truly epic one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art ended on a disastrous low note over the weekend. Sources report seeing a man intentionally vomit (photo, left) into the space occupied by Abramovic and her anonymous, equally silent sitters. Another woman stripped off her own clothes, began screaming hysterically and was dragged out of the building by security through the terrified throngs.
But all in all, this show was an unequivocal triumph. Thousands lined up to participate in the artist's all-day silent, uninterrupted blinking contest, including Björk and a couple of the chicks from "Sex and the City." As much as people make fun of this for not really being "art" (whatever that means), there's no question it made a huge impact.
One reason that so many people were blown away is probably because they haven't ever seen performance art actually work. In fact, we haven't seen too much successful material ourselves, which is why we were able to put together this embarrassing list of the worst "artistic" forays among people who probably should have just stuck to being on reality shows or something.
Keep reading for the cringe-inducing list.
Idiots Plant Suspicious Packages Robert Barrett and Jamie Davis were 21-year-old juniors at Pratt in the fall of 2006 when they made headlines for terrorizing our city in the name of art. Their choice of a site-specific installation for a class project was to install five "suspicious packages" emblazoned with the "If You See Something, Say Something" logo. Their work, possibly an attempt to show how we were all unnecessarily panicked, had the intended effect -- except the part where they were both charged with multiple felonies.
"Czech Dream" As a documentary, the 2004 film "Czech Dream" is a thought-provoking and entertaining account of a massive piece of performance art unlike any undertaken in history. A couple of kids started a fake company, hired a top advertising firm, and started a huge public promotion about a Walmart-style superstore coming to the former communist country. The Czech Republic citizenry, wired to craziness already by their new-found capitalism and massive grocery stores, showed up in droves to the huge grand opening, only to find nothing except scaffolding behind the store's facade. The filmmakers were understandably attacked and beaten senseless, although they survived and went on to complete the film. Memo to performance artists: People hate being duped, especially if they're hungry.
Scottee According to Bizarre magazine, this weirdo is "24-year-old Scottee ... a so-hot-right-now performance artist, DJ, host of 'art-fash club bash' events and omnipresent London gay scenester." We'd like to art-fash club bash someone over the head for putting this Beth Ditto wannabe on YouTube.
Michael Stone, Terrorist Irish maniac Michael Stone received a life sentence for pulling a Westboro and attacking an IRA funeral with real weapons. We emphasize "real" there because, six years after being released under the 2000 amnesty agreement, Stone was busted carrying what he called a fake pipe bomb and toy gun at Northern Ireland's Parliament. He called his Guy Fawkes–style plot a "performance protest" and claimed his belongings were "props." The courts were unmoved by his masterwork, sentencing him to 16 years of bending over and kissing the Blarney Stone.
Soy Bomb Guy
The Grammys probably regret hiring performance artist Michael Portnoy to be one of Bob Dylan's backup dancers at the 1998 awards. Midway through Dylan's performance of "Love Sick," Portnoy took off his black T-shirt, revealing the words "Soy Bomb" ("I Am the Bomb," roughly translated) scrawled on his chest. As Radio City security shrugged, thinking Portnoy was part of the show, Mr. Soy danced to Dylan's left and failed to rankle America's greatest-ever songwriter. When the jig was finally up 40 seconds later, so was Portnoy's 15 minutes of fame: Dylan-ologists invaded his next art show and heckled him, to the point where he pulled a knife and chased them out of the gallery.