Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramoviç has pioneered the use of Performance as a visual art form. The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion, and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. This particular blend of epic struggle and self-inflicted violence, was borne out of the contradictions of her childhood: both parents were high-ranking officials in the Socialist government, while her grandmother, with whom she had lived, was devout Serbian Orthodox. Though personal in origin, the explosive force of Abramoviç’s art spoke to a generation in Yugoslavia undergoing the tightening control of Communist rule.
The tensions between abandonment and control lay at the heart of her series of performances known as Rhythms (1973–74). In Rhythm 5, Abramoviç lay down inside the blazing frame of a wooden star. With her oxygen supply depleted by the fire, she lost consciousness and had to be rescued by concerned onlookers. In Rhythm 10, she plunged a knife between the spread fingers of one hand, stopping only after she had cut herself 20 times. Having made an audio recording of the action, she then played back the sound while repeating the movements—this time trying to coordinate the new gashes with the old. Using her dialogue with an audience as a source of energy, Abramoviç created ritualistic performance pieces that were cathartic and liberating. In Rhythm O, she invited her audience to do whatever they wanted to her using any of the 72 items she provided: pen, scissors, chains, axe, loaded pistol, and others. This essay in submission was played out to chilling conclusions—the performance ceased when audience members grew too aggressive. Truly ephemeral, Abramoviç’s earliest performances were documented only by crude black-and-white photographs and descriptive texts, which she published as an edition years later—choosing the most iconic images to represent the essence of her actions. Since 1976 she has utilized video to capture the temporal nature of her art. Cleaning the Mirror #I is composed of five stacked monitors playing videos of a haunting performance in which Abramoviç scrubs a grime-covered human skeleton on her lap. Rich with metaphor, this 3-hour action recalls, among other things, Tibetan death rites that prepare disciples to become one with their own mortality.
LOT SOLD (1999 - 2009)
TOTAL SALES (1999 - 2009)
Christie's, New York
July 28, 2015
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Christie's, New York
May 12, 2015
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Christie's, New York
December 2, 2014
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By Nicholas Forrest | July 1, 2015
“Marina Abramović: In Residence” at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, Sydney is a groundbreaking two-part project that represents the latest developments in world-renowned Serbian performance artist Marina...
By BLOUIN ARTINFO Germany | June 17, 2015
KW Institute for Contemporary Art: Fire and Forget. On Violence The new exhibition at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art is definitely a must-see. Its title “Fire and Forget” is borrowed...
By Lisa Contag | March 9, 2015
Blood, feces, nudity and dead animals were among the elements frequently used by the members of Viennese Actionism, perhaps the most violent avant-garde art movement of the 1960s and...
By Nicholas Forrest | February 19, 2015
World renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic will present two major projects in Australia later this year thanks to a collaboration between two of the country’s leading private arts...
By Nicholas Forrest | December 18, 2014
Following weeks of speculation and rumours, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has announced that it will host a major retrospective of world renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic...
By Michelle Tay | June 18, 2014
In a feat of an exhibition about feet, artwork by Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, Gino Severini and Fernand Léger, Georges Roualt and Alexander Calder, on loan from numerous prestigious...
Oct 11, 2012 - Jan 13, 2013
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
Oct 25 - Nov 24, 2012
Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna