Artists draw blood

August 15, 1997

As a conference on violence opens, Alan Thomson looks at research into the topic

VIOLENCE in postmodern art may represent a deep-seated human desire for blood sacrifice and religious ritual, according to a United States academic.

Dawn Perlmutter will deliver one of the most shocking papers at the congress, backing her theories with video clips of people mutilating themselves in the name of art.

An assistant professor of art and philosophy at Pennsylvania University, she argues that the use of blood in a violent context in art performances represents the sort of ritual long ago suppressed by religions.

She said: "Violence is endemic to society. We have in the past tried to control it through religious ritual and blood sacrifice. These artists may be attempting to control violence in their own way."

* see research papers


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