“Pretentiousness” is a criticism that gets tossed about a lot, and most of the time I think it’s undeserved. Those blue peas in The Aviator, for example, is often called out as pretentiousness on Scorcese’s part, but when you think about it, it really didn’t derail the movie.
However, that doesn’t mean that pretentiousness does not exist. Take the case of Marina Abramović, the self proclaimed “grandmother of perfomance art.” Wikipedia has a good overview of one of her most famous pieces, entitled “Rhythm 0″:
Abramović had placed upon a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were scissors, a knife, a whip, and, most notoriously, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions. Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained impassive) several people began to act quite aggressively. As Abramović described it later: “The experience I learned was that…if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed.” … “I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.”
To which most of us would respond with, “Well, DUH.”
Seriously, what did she expect? I mean, you stand like a mannequin, you give people a bunch of objects … are you telling me that you never expected people would try to do things to get a rise out of you? And her conclusion was some trite little moral like “if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed”? Bull. I guess when I put on a mask to scare my wife when she’s reading a book, I’m really trying to say that “left to their own devices, humans will spread fear and malcontentedness.” Sorry, grandma. The only moral I got from “Rhythm 0″ is that performance artists are pretentious little drama queens who treat the most obvious observations about life as some sort of mind-blowing epiphany.
That said, today’s subject is about as close a webcomic can get to performance art. Surprisingly, the webcomic also has “0″ in its title: Sarah Zero, written and illustrated by someone calling himself “Ace Plughead.” (Isn’t that what Boris was always saying in GoldenEye?) Readers may be relieved by the break from my recent string of black-and-white webcomic reviews. Color! Finally! Just a word to the wise: there’s a very good chance that, by the end of this review, you’re going to hate the color red.
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