Today I will be looking at the work of four incredible artists; Marina Abramovic, Frida Kahlo, Madonna and Lady Gaga. What these women have in common is their unswerving confrontation of self as they work towards change in political and social matters. I am inspired by their ability to provoke, challenge and to eradicate limitation in their art. Each artist has handled the same subject repetitively since the beginning of their career, which has shown me just how long artists’ have to persist and work with the same themes over and over again in order to create change. As always, there will be some ties to my PhD research, but I aim to be very brief in my writing so that you can conjure up your own thoughts about their work.

Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic, a performance artist, best known for “The Artist is Present”, is someone who I have admired for a long time now because she literally has no boundaries. In her iconic performance art work “Rhythm 0” (1974) which comprised of a table with 72 objects such as a knife, a gun and scissors, and a sign stating that she would remain an object and would take full responsibility for the actions of the audience, she positioned her body as an object amongst objects. By the end of the performance, “all her clothes had been sliced off her body with razor blades, she had been cut, painted, cleaned, decorated, crowned with thorns and had had the loaded gun pressed against her head”.  Whilst Abramovic did have control over the objects she had chosen for this performance, her choice to give control of the objects to the audience, was what highlighted the severity of human objectification. Sadly this work was before my time, but here is a video that offers insight into the Abramovic Method, as used by Lady Gaga, the next artist I want to talk about.

Lady Gaga

I adore Lady Gaga for many reasons, including her committed activism for equality and gay rights, but for the purpose of this post, I point out two random connections that are key to my research. In her documentary “Five Foot Two” she expresses how she protects herself and her art from exploitation. In short, she does what she is told to do, but then she “exaggerates the shit out of it”. In John Wayne, for instance, she uses, what look like, 10 inch pleaser boots as guns, thus shifting the use of the object to suit her own thinking, as opposed to wearing the shoes for their intended use only. Please enjoy.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, a female painter, has a body of work that is honest, very raw, oftentimes full of pain, and always in connection with what is means to be woman. Her self-portraits, for instance, have depicted female sexuality, miscarriage and bodily identity (particularly with reference to her disability caused by a bus accident). A quote from Frida “I paint myself because I am so often alone and I am the subject I know best”. If you haven’t already seen her work, you can view Frida (2002), a movie about her life, where she is played by the beautiful Salma Hayek.


I don’t really have to write much about Madonna as I think “The Secret Project Revolution” says it all. The political drive for this work is unsettling, enlightening and poignant. The movement is mesmerising and fully supported by a script that is wrapped in expression of objectification and whore / virgin dichotomy (the next topic I will be writing about). A excerpt… “ I am woman, I am a blonde, and I have tits and ass and an insatiable desire to be noticed. Come on, baby; show us your ass. Shake it for us, baby. Do that dance you do so well for us, baby… Some people like it when I show my ass and some people think it is obscene.”

I’ll be back next week with more to share, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on InstagramTwitter or Facebook

Rowena x