A Yugoslavian born performance artist. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibility of the mind. Since starting her career in the 1970’s, making work that is intimate, physically and emotionally exposing, dangerous and extrapolates such practices of everyday life as walking, screaming and simply being to explore their latent power.
During the late 1950’s abstract art began to lose impetus. Many artist began to embrace performance art. Abramovic’s work showed the typical aims of a new generations eagerness to avoid traditional, object based art. (e.g. paint and canvas). She cut down the barrier between audience and artist by making her own body the medium. In 1974, Abramovic did a terrifying experiment. In an art gallery in Serbia (Belgrade) she laid seventy-two items on a table and invited the public to use them on her in any way they wanted. Some of the items were not very dangerous; a feather boa, roses etc. But some items were lethal, she had a pistol loaded with bullets. When spectator halted the performance six hours in, she had been painted, cleaned, cut and decorated and a loaded gun had been held to her head. She exited the gallery covered in blood and tears, and alive. Her earlier work was probably her most dangerous material.
‘I had a pistol with bullet in it, my dear. I was ready to die.’
She often refers to herself as the Grandmother of performance art. In the year 2010, she sat in a chair in the MoMa in New York for ‘The Artist is Present’ exhibition, as visitors sat across from her; some laughed; some cried. One visitor stripped her of all her clothing and had to be removed by security. The exhibition took place over three months during which, she sat completely impassive and become one of the most famous and controversial pieces of performance art ever staged.
Some critics had some very strong opinions about her work; Fox News described her as ‘some Yugoslavian-born provocateur’.
She allowed the audience to have potentially sadistic access to her but she continued to explore the limits of her own endurance, as well as her own masochism, and her audiences relationship to it, the power to transform herself and her audiences, physically, emotionally and psychically. In 1975 she performed several body art pieces that tested her physical limits; She screamed until she lost her voice in ‘Freeing the voice’, ran repeatedly into a wall until she collapsed in ‘Interruption in space’, and using a razor to cut a five pointed star into her stomach, whipping herself and lying across ice for thirty minutes in ‘Lips of Thomas’. These works staged violent physical transformations, but they also explored the potential for these somewhat ritualized acts to effect less visible psychic transformation, both for Abromovic as a performer and for her audience as witness.
Marina Abramovic Last Day May 31 2012 The Artist Is Present:
An Art Made of Trust, Vulnerability and Connection | Marina Abramović | TED Talks