Marina Abramovic: Performance Artist

The Artist is Present – An exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art. Image Source

I recently stumbled on an article about a Serbian Artist: Marina Abramovic I found strangely interesting… Something about this woman just grabbed my attention so I looked into some of her work and truth be told, I find her to be disturbingly intriguing!

Marina is a performance artist. She began her career in the early 1970s and has since received many awards for her work, has been featured in documentaries and was also the subject of an independent film : ‘Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present’ which is based on her life and performances.

Image Source

Her performance titled: Rythm 0 (1974) is what caught my attention… Marina created a public performance in which she tests the viewer’s behavior towards another human being (in this case being herself) who is completely helpless. A challenge of humanity and trust, Marina assigned herself a passive role in the piece: she left the conclusion up to the spectators. Marina placed 72 random objects on a table and invited guests to use these objects in any way they pleased on her. Among these objects were honey, feathers, a rose, a whip, scissors, a gun and a bullet. For a total of six hours, the artist stood motionless and allowed the audience to do as they pleased.

At first, the audience proceeded with caution however, as time passed they became more aggressive.

Image Source

Marina described her feelings later:

“What I learned was that… if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you. … I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation.” (Daneri, 29; and 30).

Image Source

Another famous piece by Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2010)  a further look into human behaviour that is truly captivating.  Many videos, books and articles have been created on this piece where Marina would simply sit in her seat across from a visitor, unspeaking and motionless. The reactions range from blank stares to fits of laughter and even tears. Perhaps the most beautiful moment was when Marina came face to face with a old lover, Uley whom she had not laid eyes upon in decades.

The emotions shown in this short video are perhaps the most beautiful, true and heart warming displays of love and loss I’ve ever seen.

Further reading:

What are your thoughts on Marina Abramovic’s work? Tell us in the comments below!