Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović

Serbian-American Artist

Born: November 30, 1946 - Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Main
The audience is like a dog. They can feel immediately that you are afraid, that you are insecure, that you're not in the right state of mind - and they just leave...
1 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature
To me the pain and the blood are merely means of artistic expression.
2 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature
Through performance, I found the possibility of establishing a dialogue with the audience through an exchange of energy, which tended to transform the energy itself. I could not produce a single work without the presence of the audience, because the audience gave me the energy to be able, through a specific action, to assimilate it and return it, to create a genuine field of energy.
3 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature
I started realizing I could use any material I want, fire, water, and the body. The moment when I started using the body, it was such an enormous satisfaction that I had and that I can communicate with the public that I could never do anything else. I could never go back to the seclusion of the studio and be protected by the space there. The only way of expression is to perform.
4 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature
When I am performing a piece, anything that happens in that moment is part of the piece.
5 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature
Once, Picasso was asked what his paintings meant. He said, 'Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You dont. But you listen to them anyway.' So, sometimes with art, it is important just to look.
6 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature
We are always in the space in-between... all the spaces where you are not actually at home. You haven't arrived yet.... This is where our mind is the most open. We are alert, we are sensitive, and destiny can happen. We do not have any barriers and we are vulnerable. Vulnerability is important. It means we are completely alive and this is an extremely important space. This is for me the space from which my work generates.
7 of 7
Marina Abramović Signature

Summary of Marina Abramović

Towards the late 1950s, as abstract art began to lose impetus, many artists across the world began to embrace performance art. Performance had been a feature of avant-garde art since around 1910, but Marina Abramović's work is typical of the aims of the new generation in her eagerness to avoid traditional, object-based art materials (such as paint and canvas), and to cut down the distance between the artist and the audience by making her own body the medium. Brought up during Yugoslavia's repressive Communist dictatorship, and raised by parents closely tied to the regime, Abramović's dramatic and dangerous performances often seem like cathartic responses to these early experiences. She has produced a quantity of sculpture, but she is best known for performance, and she remains one of only a handful of performance artists of her generation who have continued to perform late in their career.

Accomplishments

Biography of Marina Abramović

Promotional postcard for the Marina Abramović / Ulay exhibition in Galerie Krinzinger, Innsbruck, Austria, 1973

Enduring pain and thriving through it are skills and necessities that root from Abramović’s early years under communist oppression.

Important Art by Marina Abramović

Rhythm 10 (1973)

Rhythm 10 (1973)

Abramović's first forays into performance focused primarily on sound installations, but she increasingly incorporated her body - often harming it in the process. In Rhythm 10, she used a series of 20 knives to quickly stab at the spaces between her outstretched fingers. Every time she pierced her skin, she selected another knife from those carefully laid out in front of her. Halfway through, she began playing a recording of the first half of the hour-long performance, using the rhythmic beat of the knives striking the floor, and her hand, to repeat the same movements, cutting herself at the same time. She has said that this work marked the first time she understood that drawing on the audience's energy drove her performance; this became an important concept informing much of her later work.

Rhythm 5 (1974)

Rhythm 5 (1974)

Viewing both life and performance art as reaching beyond the realm of awareness, Abramović has created performances in which she sleeps or becomes drugged into unconsciousness to examine this crucial aspect of life. In Rhythm 5, she created a star shape with wood shavings covered in gasoline and lit the wood on fire. After cutting her nails and hair and dropping them into the fire, she lay down within the burning star, a symbol both of the occult and of Communism in Yugoslavia. When audience members realized her clothes were on fire and she had lost consciousness due to the lack of oxygen amidst the flames, they pulled her out, ending the performance. After performing Rhythm 5, she said she "realized the subject of my work should be the limits of the body. I would use performance to push my mental and physical limits beyond consciousness."

Rhythm 0 (1974)

Rhythm 0 (1974)

With a description reading "I am the object," and, "During this period I take full responsibility," Abramović invited spectators to use any of 72 objects on her body in any way they desired, completely giving up control. Rhythm 0 was exemplary of Abramović's belief that confronting physical pain and exhaustion was important in making a person completely present and aware of his or her self. This work also reflected her interest in performance art as a way to transform both the performer and the audience. She wanted spectators to become collaborators, rather than passive observers. Here, they physically directed the actions, while in other performances, Abramović involved the audience through a dynamic exchange of energy. In Rhythm 0, the audience divided itself into those who sought to harm Abramović (holding the loaded gun to her head) and those who tried to protect her (wiping away her tears). Ultimately, after she stood motionless for six hours, the protective audience members insisted the performance be stopped, seeing that others were becoming increasingly violent.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Marina Abramović
Influenced by Artist
Open Influences
Marina Abramović
Influenced by Artist
Artists
Friends
Close Influences

Useful Resources on Marina Abramović

Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

"Marina Abramović Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
First published on 01 Jul 2010. Updated and modified regularly
[Accessed ]