Masochism In Performance Art: Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch

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Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895) was an Austrian writer from the mid to late nineteenth century. The term masochism was derived from his name due to the nature of his renowned romance novels. In 1949, Reik conducted an in-depth clinical study of masochism and expressed the idea that there are four main components to such behaviour. These components are listed as fantasy, suspense, demonstration and provocation. Deleuze elaborates these terms further, describing fantasy as “the scene which is dreamed, dramatised, ritualised,” (1967, p75). Ritual is a ceremony of sorts which complies with a series of actions and does not have a prescribed outcome. Deleuze refers to suspense as the anxiety that occurs when the masochist is left to wait and…show more content…
This piece took place on 16th May 1976, in the Maki Gallery, Tokyo. The piece was originally rejected and shut down by authorities in Australia, leading this event to take place in a private showing in Japan. It is a performance of flesh hook suspension, which involved Stelarc being pierced at eighteen points over the back of his body with large fish hooks that had their barbs filed away. “There were two hooks into the buttocks, into the thighs, and into the calves… The insertions took one-and-a-half hours, a very long time,” (Stelarc, Interview by Geoffrey DeGroen, 1984, p.98). He had two men piercing his skin and inserting the hooks. The skin is pinched, lifted, stretched away from veins and capillaries present in muscle, and gripped tautly when pierced. The performance lasted fifteen minutes before his skin was relieved from supporting his body weight. A Plank was placed beneath him to take the weight when he was finished, no time was planned. There was no expected outcome. The audience of this first body by-pass event, a term used by Stelarc, was limited to those who were assisting him, although he has said that one or two people accidentally came into the gallery at the time, “there were no public invitations.” (Stelarc, Interview by Geoffrey DeGroen, 1984, p.104). Stelarc uses the term body by-pass event as he believes he is bypassing the normal thresholds of the body, “it is the primal urge to transcend your physical limitations,” (Stelarc, interview by Geoffrey DeGroen, 1984,

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