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Much Ado About Marina Abramović’s “Nothing”

Marina Abramović (with the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art she recieved in 2008) at the screening of Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present during the Vienna International Film Festival 2012, Gartenbaukino. Imavge via Wikipedia Commons.
Marina Abramović (with the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art she recieved in 2008) at the screening of Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present during the Vienna International Film Festival 2012, Gartenbaukino. (image via Wikipedia Commons)

An upcoming Marina Abramović show about “nothing” at London’s Serpentine Gallery has found several prominent art historians and critics at odds with the artist and Serpentine curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the Guardian reported. The work’s concept carries significant art historical precedent, including John Cage’s 4’33” (1952), Yves Klein’s The Void (1957–1962), even a retrospective of “void”-related work at the Centre Pompidou in 2009, among others. David Joselit of the City University of New York, Frazer Ward of Smith College, and Yona Backer of the Lambent Foundation are among those objecting to the lack of attribution in the show’s literature.

Joselit, most recently author of After Art, told the Guardian that Abramović’s piece must “acknowledge this genealogy” of precedent works which address “The question of nothing. Doing nothing.”

The exhibition, titled 512 Hours, will see Abramović spending every day in blank Serpentine galleries during open public hours — 10am to 6pm six days a week — for a cumulative total of 512 hours. It is set to run from June 11 to August 25.

Nothing: the new buzz.

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