Art on This Day
Yugoslav-born performance artist Marina Abramovic was born on this day in 1946, Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now known as Serbia). Abramović is known to be the “grandmother of performance art” as her works dramatically test the endurance and limitations of her own body and mind.
In 1965 she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade to study painting. Eventually, however, she became interested in the possibilities of performance art, specifically the ability to use her body as a site of artistic and spiritual exploration. After completing postgraduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1972, Abramović conceived a series of visceral performance pieces that engaged her body as both subject and medium. Early in her stages of her career, entitled Rhythm 10 (1973), Abramović methodically stabbed the spaces between her fingers with a knife, at times drawing blood. In Rhythm 0 (1974) she stood immobile in a room for six hours along with 72 objects, ranging from a rose to a loaded gun, that the audience was invited to use on her however they wished. These pieces provoked controversy not only for their perilousness but also for Abramović’s occasional nudity, which would become a regular element of her work thereafter.
Between 1976 and 1988, Abramović collaborated with German photographer, performance artist, and long-term partner, Ulay, to create performance works that explore such binaries as male and female, active and passive, through the execution of repetitive, exhausting, and often painful actions. Abramović has continued to work independently since then, staging performative works that increasingly demand viewer involvement, she is one of the few pioneers of that generation still creating new work. She has been, and continues to be, an essential influence for performance artists making work over the last several decades, especially for works that challenge the limits of the body.
Although she does not view her own artwork through the frame of Feminist Art, her confrontations with the physical self and the primary role given to the female body have helped shape the direction of that discipline. Her commitment to giving new life to older performance works - both hers and the works of others - led her to create the Marina Abramović Institute for Preservation of Performance Art, in Hudson, New York. This non-profit organisation will support teaching, preserving and funding performance art, ensuring an enduring legacy for her performances and, more broadly, for the ephemeral art form itself. About this Institute, Abramović has said, "Performance is fleeting. But this, this place, this is for time. This is what I will leave behind."
In Summer 2014, in a unique work created for the Serpentine, 512 Hours. The internationally acclaimed artist performed in the Gallery for the duration of her exhibition: 10am to 6pm, 6 days a week, attracting a total of 129,916 visitors. Creating the simplest of environments in the Gallery spaces, Abramović’s only materials were herself, the audience and a selection of props.
Recently Abramović has released a book 'Walk Through Walls' which is said to be ' an operatic love story—a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe—a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China.'
More in Art on this day
Focus Kazakhstan's Eurasian Utopia: Post ScriptumAs the final show of the series begins, we reflect on the Focus Kazakhstan initiative. November 26, 2018