If you have been checking your calendar regularly, then you know Halloween is coming up next weekend. If you are avoiding facing the fact that summer is over, just revel in the photograph above of me at a Halloween party my friends and I threw when we were 11 years old. I think this was before Spin-the-Bottle. Contrary to popular belief, I was dressed not as a blinged-out nun, but rather as an Egyptian pharaoh (my mom always bought our costumes from the pharmacy…). Don’t worry if you haven’t found a costume as good as mine was—this week, I’m bringing you not one but three fun and cheap contemporary art costumes.
First up: Marina Abramović! The lamb is entirely optional.
To perfect your Abramović Method, dress in plain, simple clothes: linen white paints, buttoned-up shirts, plain black skirts, unadorned and conservative red dresses. Wear no make-up; eat only almonds. Don’t speak.
To bring your Marina impersonation to life, performance is key. Act rigorously disciplined and self-controlled, even after the beer has bested your bloodstream. Consider recreating one of her acclaimed performances—perhaps you could lie in the snow, drawing a star in flames around where you have sited yourself. Or, if your friend or partner is up for it, have them dress as Ulay! Or, do as I did, and sit alone on a bare mattress for half-an-hour only to realize you never triggered your camera’s self-timer. (NOTE: Halloween might not be the best time to recreate “Rhythm 0”—that could get dangerous!)
Next in line is Yoko Ono’s performance “Cut Piece”. Like Abramović, just remember to keep it simple! Don your favorite shirt and a pair of scissors and let passer-bys cut your clothes off. Once you feel well and violated (or everyone is too drunk to be trusted with scissors—again, safety first!), your performance is done! Ditch the scissors and go break up a band or something.
The final costume I’ll be walking you through is Carolee Schneeman. Begin by obtaining a roll of receipt paper. While not necessarily a popular paper product, check out your local office supply store. Another good idea would be to rob a bank and steal the paper out of their teller machine!
Now that you have a roll, turn it into a scroll! Write whatever you would like on the paper: feminist speeches; poetry; grocery lists.
Here is where things get messy. Grab whatever raw meat you have in your fridge and rub it on your body. Bloody steaks and ground turkey work best for this, but feel free to be creative. Fish would also be appropriate; octopus may need to be left for calamari, but who knows! Try oil and vinegar! Shoe polish! No judgment! Whatever you’re into!
Finally, insert the scroll into a bodily orifice. Consult your doctor as to determine which is most appropriate—ears and nose are all acceptable options, but if you want a more authentic “Interior Scroll” costume (as did I), read up on Schneeman’s technique. As the night progresses, pull the scroll from your body and begin to recite what you have written. A photograph of my performance is below—again, I went for a very authentic costume, so view at your own discretion.