From 52 Projects Book, I’ve chosen 5 to complete before I’m 31. One of them was; Project #24 “Study the life’s work and the life of an artist. ” I thought so many precious people, so many important works to write about. But below, I tried to write shortly about an amazing woman ; Marina Abramović.
Marina Abramovic is a Serbian performance artist. She has an interesting life before she started her career in early 70’s. She’s raised by parents who had both military pasts. Both of them were Partisans. Her mother was also director of The Museum of the Revolution and Art in Belgrade. After her father left home, her mother was in charge and in one of her interviews she said “my mother took complete military-style control of me and my brother. I was not allowed to leave the house after 10 o’clock at night till I was 29 years old. … All the performances in Yugoslavia I did before 10 o’clock in the evening because I had to be home then. It’s completely insane, but all of my cutting myself, whipping myself, burning myself, almost losing my life in the firestar, everything was done before 10 in the evening “
After graduating from Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, ( she was a student at the Academy Of Fine Arts in Belgrade before), in 1976 she moved to Amsterdam. She was married to Nesa Paripovic before she left.
She has many daring and challenging performances. You can see her performance catalog here. It’s said that her works explores the relationship between the performer and the audience and the limits of the body. If you check a few of her performances early in the 70’s, you can clearly see it. Such as in Ryhthm 10, she was playing russian game with 20 different knives and she records the game. She describes the performance like;
I turn on the tape recorder.
I take the first knife and stab in between the fingers of my left hand as fast as possible.
Every time I cut myself, I change the knife.
When I’ve used all of the knives (all of the rhythms), I rewind the tape recorder.
I listen to the tape recording of the first part of the performance.
She met Ulay ( Uwe Laysiepen ) a German performance artist like her and they started to collaborate. They were also in a passionate love relationship. Together they made very impressive extraordinary performances. One of them is AAA-AAA in which they stand opposite each other and produce a long sound with open mouths. In the Breathing Out, Breathing In , they connected their mouths and took each other’s exhaled breaths. After seventeen minutes, they fell to the floor unconscious.
In 1980, they were supposed to get married in the Great Wall Of China, it was one of their projects. Each was supposed to start walking from the opposite end and meet in the middle. But that never happened because the government of China didn’t let them until 1988. It was too late because they had decided to end their relationship so the project has changed: They started to walk from the opposite sides, met in the middle and end their relationship. Marina described it ” We needed a certain form of ending, after this huge distance walking towards each other. It is very human. It is in a way more dramatic, more like a film ending … Because in the end you are really alone, whatever you do.”
In 2010, she was performing The Artist Is Present at Museum Of Modern Arts in New York, in which she sat in front of each stranger in silence. She shares one minute with every stranger without talking, just looking into their eyes.
Here’s the part of this performance that thrills me: On the opening day of the exhibition, Ulay came and sat across her. And this is what happened:
If you want to know more about this amazing artist, you should see the documentary Marina Abramovic : The Artist Is Present
And check this beautiful tumblr page of portraits taken during the Museum Of Modern Art’s exhibit of her performance.
And for Marina Abramovic fans out there I have some good news! A new show about Marina’s life and career, her childhood in Serbia, her performances: The Life and Death of Marina Abramović. It’s directed by Robert Wilson, songs written and performed by Antony ( (Antony & The Johnsons) and Willem Dafoe as the narrator and her male counterpart.
And lastly, here’s an amazing music video of Antony and The Johnsons’ Cut The World in which you can see Marina Abramovic.