THIRTY YEARS AGO, Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic was a penniless outsider, lining of a van. Now the 67-year-old is a star turn, not just revered by the art world for her boundary-pushing shows, but collaborating with Lady Gaga and inspiring a storyline on Sex and the City. As the New-York based artist begins a 64-day installation, 512 hours, at London’s Serpentine Gallery, we wondered what could possibly be next for someone whose works have involved taking drugs, cutting herself, scrubbing cow bones and nurturing a baby kangaroo. The intriguing answer? Nothing…
You’ re known for doing crazy staff, but your latest piece is just you in a room for eight hours a day, six days a week. What’s happening?
“After 40 years of being an artist, I really want to see how I can work with just energy. It could fail, so I guess that ’s why it’s worth doing. I’ve never been in a space where there is nothing.”
What do you hope to achieve?
“People are so lost these days, there’s a need for this transmission of energy at the moment. They are full of so much pain and direct contact with an artist is not there. Artists become celebrities and untouchable”.
How can you do this by saying and doing nothing?
“We can alert our powers of telepathy. For the past year, Russian and American scientists have measured my brain waves. They have proved that when you ’re looking at a total stranger without saying one word, you ’re sending subconscious information to each other. So you can actually know more about somebody without saying one word than while having a conversation. It’s cheaper than a telephone”.
In past performances, you’ve cut yourself, taken drugs and allowed strangers to hurt you. Why?
“Terrible events can make tremendous change, like disease, an accident, someone from your family dying. People never change from happiness. I’m not waiting for this kind of event. I’m staging difficult situations in the form of the performance”
What is your most memorable reaction to a piece of your work?
“A friend of mine who is a great American critic said: ‘I hate your work’. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘You always make my cry’, he said. This is a really good reaction.
Words by Sarah O’meara
Marina Abramovic: current and forward performances:
Marina Abramovic: 512 Hours
Serpentine Gallery London, United Kingdom
June 11 to August 25, 2014
The Serpentine Gallery will present 512 Hours, a durational performance by Marina Abramovic, from June 11 to August 25, 2014. This is a new work created specifically for the Serpentine Gallery, as well as Abramovic?s first original performance piece to be exhibited in Great Britain. It will consist of Abramovic performing an unscripted piece in the gallery for the duration of her exhibition from 10am to 6pm, 6 days a week, for a total of 512 hours.
Abramovic’s only materials will be herself, the audience and a selection of common objects that she will use in a constantly changing sequence of events. On arrival visitors must leave behind all of their bags, jackets, watches, electronic equipment and cameras before entering the exhibition space. The public will become the performing body, participating with Abramovic in the delivery of this powerful new work.
512 Hours is free of charge and on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. There is no advance booking. For more information please visit the Serpentine Gallery website.
Marina Abramovic: Holding Emptiness
CAC Malaga Malaga, Spain
through August 31, 2014
Marina Abramovic: Holding Emptiness is on display at CAC Malaga through August 31, 2014. The exhibition, curated by the museum?s director Fernando Frances, is the first solo exhibition of Abramovic?s work in a Spanish museum within the last decade. The exhibition presents work spanning her entire career, including photographs, videos and a selection of thirty unpublished drawings, which come from three notebooks Abramovic took with her on a trip to Brazil in the nineties.
Following her travels to Brazil, China and India in the late eighties and nineties, Abramovic created “transitory objects,” some of which are on display, including Chair for Human Use with Chair for Spirit Use. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the objects and experiment with the sensations they experience. There is a selection of photographs from her performances in the seventies, such as Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful and Rhythm 10, as well as those from her collaborations with Ulay. Additionally, there are videos of performances undertaken without a live audience. For more information please visit the CAC Malaga website.
Marina Abramovic: Entering the Other Side
Kistefos Museet Jevnaker, Norway
through October 5, 2014
Marina Abramovic: Entering the Other Side is on display at the Kistefos Museet through October 5, 2014. The exhibition features photographs and videos focusing on themes of life, death and sexuality.
This is also the first time her recent video work The Scream, which was made at the Ekeberg Park in Oslo, will appear in an exhibition. Abramovic travelled to Oslo in August of 2013 to collaborate with a cast of 300 of Oslo?s inhabitants to create a special, site-specific performance as an homage to Edvard Munch?s The Scream. With the same landscape as seen in the famous image by Munch as a backdrop, the inhabitants of Oslo released their emotions by screaming. A film crew was present to document the event and the project resulted in a documentary, an art film and a book.
For more information please visit the Kistefos Museet website.