Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramović (Serbian Cyrillic: Марина Абрамовић, pronounced [marǐːna abrǎːmoʋitɕ]; born November 30, 1946) is a Serbian conceptual and performance artistphilanthropist,[1] writer, and filmmaker.[2] Her work explores body artendurance art and feminist art, the relationship between the performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.

[3] Being active for over four decades, Abramović refers to herself as the “grandmother of performance art”.[4] She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body”.[5] 

In 2007, she founded the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), a non-profit foundation for performance art.[6][7]

“Marina Abramović.” Wikipedia, Accessed 13 Feb. 2022.

Her early work was a collaboration with Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen):
Marina Abramović and the CODA Museum, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Rest Energy:

Marina Abramovic: Ted Talk

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To test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience, Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force that would act on her. Abramović placed on a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use in any way that they chose; a sign informed them that they held no responsibility for any of their actions. Some of the objects could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, olive oil, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed audience members to manipulate her body and actions without consequences. This tested how vulnerable and aggressive human subjects could be when actions have no social consequences.

At first the audience did not do much and was extremely passive. However, as the realization began to set in that there was no limit to their actions, the piece became brutal. By the end of the performance, her body was stripped, attacked, and devalued into an image that Abramović described as the “Madonna, mother, and whore.”[5] Additionally, markings of aggression were written on the artist’s body. There were cuts on her neck made by audience members, and her clothes were cut off her body. With an initial determination to find out how the public acts with no consequences tied to their actions, she realized by the end that the public might very well have killed her for their own personal enjoyment.

In her works, Abramović affirms her identity through the perspective of others, however, more importantly by changing the roles of each player, the identity and nature of humanity at large is unraveled and showcased. By doing so, the individual experience morphs into a collective one and creates a powerful message.[5] Abramović’s art also represents the objectification of the female body, as she remains motionless and allows spectators to do as they please with her body; the audience pushes the limits of what one would consider acceptable. By presenting her body as an object, she explores the elements of danger and physical exhaustion.

Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained passive) people began to act more aggressively. As Abramović described it 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.”

“Marina Abramović.” Wikipedia, Accessed 13 Feb. 2022.

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