Marina Abramović performing “The Artist is Present” (screenshot via YouTube)

On Sunday, the New York Post ran a story called “The Art of the ‘Steal,’” questioning what exactly Marina Abramović has done with the $2.2 million she raised to build her art center in Hudson, New York. Over the past four years, Abramović racked up $1.5 million in private donations and another $661,452 on Kickstarter; when she discovered last month that the total cost of building the center would be $31 million, she abandoned it. (A spokesperson for the artist said the funds had paid for the design fee from Rem Koolhaas’s firm, OMA.) According to the Post, Kickstarter donors complained of not receiving their promised rewards and demanded to know how their money had been spent.

Yesterday, Abramović retorted with a statement, which she titled “The Art of Truth.” She calls the newspaper’s allegations not only “false” but “libelous.” “The majority of those funds were direct contributions of my own money which I earned as an artist,” she writes of the $2.2 million. “I contributed over 1.1 million dollars in cash donations to the institute on top of what I spent to buy the building.”

Marina Abramović Institute (screenshot via YouTube)

Abramović reiterates that the Kickstarter was, from the beginning, intended to pay for the building’s schematics. “The bill we received from the firm for this specific design work was $655,167.10,” she wrote. “We used the Kickstarter funds to pay OMA New York’s design fee.” (Her release also includes a breakdown of contributions and costs, which she titled “The Art of Truth Facts.”)

She also points out that those who did not receive their Kickstarter rewards (the prizes ranged from a hug from Abramović to a DVD set where she teaches the “eye gazing exercise”) failed to respond to her institute’s requests for information.

Abramović insists as well on the project’s altruistic nature, emphasizing the many popular “art experiences” her institute has hosted, “which were free of entrance and open to the public.” “I reject the New York Post’s allegations of theft,” Abramović concludes (emphasis hers).

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Elisa Wouk Almino

Elisa Wouk Almino is a senior editor at Hyperallergic. She is based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.