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  • Now...

  • let's go back in time.

  • It's 1974.

  • There is the gallery somewhere

  • in the world,

  • and there is a young girl, age 23,

  • standing in the middle of the space.

  • In the front of her is a table.

  • On the table there are 76 objects

  • for pleasure and for pain.

  • Some of the objects are

  • a glass of water, a coat, a shoe, a rose.

  • But also the knife, the razor blade, the hammer

  • and the pistol with one bullet.

  • There are instructions which say,

  • "I'm an object.

  • You can use everything on the table on me.

  • I'm taking all responsibility -- even killing me.

  • And the time is six hours."

  • The beginning of this performance was easy.

  • People would give me the glass of water to drink,

  • they'd give me the rose.

  • But very soon after,

  • there was a man who took the scissors and cut my clothes,

  • and then they took the thorns of the rose and stuck them in my stomach.

  • Somebody took the razor blade and cut my neck and drank the blood,

  • and I still have the scar.

  • The women would tell the men what to do.

  • And the men didn't rape me because it was just a normal opening,

  • and it was all public,

  • and they were with their wives.

  • They carried me around and put me on the table,

  • and put the knife between my legs.

  • And somebody took the pistol and bullet and put it against my temple.

  • And another person took the pistol and they started a fight.

  • And after six hours were finished,

  • I...

  • started walking towards the public.

  • I was a mess.

  • I was half-naked, I was full of blood and tears were running down my face.

  • And everybody escaped, they just ran away.

  • They could not confront myself, with myself as a normal human being.

  • And then --

  • what happened

  • is I went to the hotel, it was at two in the morning.

  • And

  • I looked at myself in the mirror,

  • and I had a piece of gray hair.

  • Alright --

  • please take off your blindfolds.

  • Welcome to the performance world.

  • First of all, let's explain what the performance is.

  • So many artists, so many different explanations,

  • but my explanation for performance is very simple.

  • Performance is a mental and physical construction

  • that the performer makes in a specific time

  • in a space in front of an audience

  • and then energy dialogue happens.

  • The audience and the performer make the piece together.

  • And the difference between performance and theater is huge.

  • In the theater, the knife is not a knife

  • and the blood is just ketchup.

  • In the performance, the blood is the material,

  • and the razor blade or knife is the tool.

  • It's all about being there in the real time,

  • and you can't rehearse performance,

  • because you can't do many of these types of things twice -- ever.

  • Which is very important, the performance is --

  • you know, all human beings are always afraid of very simple things.

  • We're afraid of suffering, we're afraid of pain,

  • we're afraid of mortality.

  • So what I'm doing --

  • I'm staging these kinds of fears in front of the audience.

  • I'm using your energy,

  • and with this energy I can go and push my body as far as I can.

  • And then I liberate myself from these fears.

  • And I'm your mirror.

  • If I can do this for myself, you can do it for you.

  • After Belgrade, where I was born,

  • I went to Amsterdam.

  • And you know, I've been doing performances

  • since the last 40 years.

  • And here I met Ulay,

  • and he was the person I actually fell in love with.

  • And we made, for 12 years, performances together.

  • You know the knife and the pistols and the bullets,

  • I exchange into love and trust.

  • So to do this kind work you have to trust the person completely

  • because this arrow is pointing to my heart.

  • So, heart beating and adrenaline is rushing and so on,

  • is about trust, is about total trust to another human being.

  • Our relationship was 12 years,

  • and we worked on so many subjects, both male and female energy.

  • And as every relationship comes to an end, ours went too.

  • We didn't make phone calls like normal human beings do

  • and say, you know, "This is over."

  • We walked the Great Wall of China to say goodbye.

  • I started at the Yellow Sea, and he started from the Gobi Desert.

  • We walked, each of us, three months,

  • two and a half thousand kilometers.

  • It was the mountains, it was difficult.

  • It was climbing, it was ruins.

  • It was, you know, going through the 12 Chinese provinces,

  • this was before China was open in '87.

  • And we succeeded to meet in the middle

  • to say goodbye.

  • And then our relationship stopped.

  • And now, it completely changed how I see the public.

  • And one very important piece I made in those days

  • was "Balkan Baroque."

  • And this was the time of the Balkan Wars,

  • and I wanted to create some very strong, charismatic image,

  • something that could serve for any war at any time,

  • because the Balkan Wars are now finished, but there's always some war, somewhere.

  • So here I am washing

  • two and a half thousand dead, big, bloody cow bones.

  • You can't wash the blood, you never can wash shame off the wars.

  • So I'm washing this six hours, six days, and wars are coming off these bones,

  • and becoming possible -- an unbearable smell.

  • But then something stays in the memory.

  • I want to show you the one who really changed my life,

  • and this was the performance in MoMa, which I just recently made.

  • This performance -- when I said to the curator,

  • "I'm just going to sit at the chair,

  • and there will be an empty chair at the front,

  • and anybody from the public can come and sit as long as they want."

  • The curator said to me,

  • "That's ridiculous, you know, this is New York,

  • this chair will be empty,

  • nobody has time to sit in front of you."

  • (Laughter)

  • But I sit for three months.

  • And I sit everyday, eight hours --

  • the opening of the museum --

  • and 10 hours on Friday when the museum is open 10 hours,

  • and I never move.

  • And I removed the table and I'm still sitting,

  • and this changed everything.

  • This performance, maybe 10 or 15 years ago --

  • nothing would have happened.

  • But the need of people to actually experience something different,

  • the public was not anymore the group --

  • relation was one to one.

  • I was watching these people, they would come and sit in front of me,

  • but they would have to wait for hours and hours and hours

  • to get to this position,

  • and finally, they sit.

  • And what happened?

  • They are observed by the other people,

  • they're photographed, they're filmed by the camera,

  • they're observed by me

  • and they have nowhere to escape except in themselves.

  • And that makes a difference.

  • There was so much pain and loneliness,

  • there's so much incredible things when you look in somebody else's eyes,

  • because in the gaze with that total stranger,

  • that you never even say one word -- everything happened.

  • And I understood when I stood up from that chair after three months,

  • I am not the same anymore.

  • And I understood that I have a very strong mission,

  • that I have to communicate this experience

  • to everybody.

  • And this is how, for me, was born the idea

  • to have an institute of immaterial performing arts.

  • Because thinking about immateriality,

  • performance is time-based art.

  • It's not like a painting.

  • You have the painting on the wall, the next day it's there.

  • Performance, if you are missing it, you only have the memory,

  • or the story of somebody else telling you,

  • but you actually missed the whole thing.

  • So you have to be there.

  • And in my point, if you talk about immaterial art,

  • music is the highest -- absolutely highest art of all,

  • because it's the most immaterial.

  • And then after this is performance, and then everything else.

  • That's my subjective way.

  • This institute is going to happen in Hudson, upstate New York,

  • and we are trying to build with Rem Koolhaas, an idea.

  • And it's very simple.

  • If you want to get experience, you have to give me your time.

  • You have to sign the contract before you enter the building,

  • that you will spend there a full six hours,

  • you have to give me your word of honor.

  • It's something so old-fashioned,

  • but if you don't respect your own word of honor and you leave before --

  • that's not my problem.

  • But it's six hours, the experience.

  • And then after you finish, you get a certificate of accomplishment,

  • so get home and frame it if you want.

  • (Laughter)

  • This is orientation hall.

  • The public comes in, and the first thing you have to do is dress in lab coats.

  • It's this importance

  • of stepping from being just a viewer into experimenter.

  • And then you go to the lockers

  • and you put your watch, your iPhone, your iPod, your computer

  • and everything digital, electronic.

  • And you are getting free time for yourself for the first time.

  • Because there is nothing wrong with technology,

  • our approach to technology is wrong.

  • We are losing the time we have for ourselves.

  • This is an institute to actually give you back this time.

  • So what you do here,

  • first you start slow walking, you start slowing down.

  • You're going back to simplicity.

  • After slow walking, you're going to learn how to drink water --

  • very simple, drinking water for maybe half an hour.

  • After this, you're going to the magnet chamber,

  • where you're going to create some magnet streams on your body.

  • Then after this, you go to crystal chamber.

  • After crystal chamber, you go to eye-gazing chamber,

  • after eye-gazing chamber, you go to a chamber where you are lying down.

  • So it's the three basic positions of the human body,

  • sitting, standing and lying.

  • And slow walking.

  • And there is a sound chamber.

  • And then after you've seen all of this,

  • and prepared yourself mentally and physically,

  • then you are ready to see something with a long duration,

  • like in immaterial art.

  • It can be music, it can be opera, it can be a theater piece,

  • it can be film, it can be video dance.

  • You go to the long duration chairs because now you are comfortable.

  • In the long duration chairs,

  • you're transported to the big place where you're going to see the work.

  • And if you fall asleep,

  • which is very possible because it's been a long day,

  • you're going to be transported to the parking lot.

  • (Laughter)

  • And you know, sleeping is very important.

  • In sleeping, you're still receiving art.

  • So in the parking lot you stay for a certain amount of time,

  • and then after this you just, you know, go back,

  • you see more of the things you like to see

  • or go home with your certificate.

  • So this institute right now is virtual.

  • Right now, I am just making my institute in Brazil,

  • then it's going to be in Australia,

  • then it's coming here, to Canada and everywhere.

  • And this is to experience a kind of simple method,

  • how you go back to simplicity in your own life.

  • Counting rice will be another thing.

  • (Laughter)

  • You know, if you count rice you can make life, too.

  • How to count rice for six hours?

  • It's incredibly important.

  • You know, you go through this whole range of being bored, being angry,

  • being completely frustrated, not finishing the amount of rice you're counting.