Opinion

Greetings from the Land of Abramović

Marina in front of a waterfall in Brazil (screen shot via Vimeo)
Marina in front of a waterfall in Brazil (screen shot via Vimeo)

Artist Marina Abramović has been pretty quiet since her 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, The Artist Is Present. But she’s back! She’s here! And she wants you to know where she’s been.

“My Facebook people!” she begins quite endearingly in a video message posted today on the Facebook wall of her in-progress performance art utopia, the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI). “Maybe you ask yourself, where have I been since Artist Is Present? What happened to me?” If you did, in fact, ask yourself this question, here’s the answer: “It was such an incredible, moving, and deep experience for me that I have to kind of go away and reflect and heal myself from the body pains after The Artist Is Present.” And where did she go? To Brazil, to study with shamans and learn about energy.

That actually sounds pretty cool, but the video message is a very short video message, and there isn’t much time to spend on the past — just a few very beautiful pictures of her standing in crucifixion pose before a waterfall or sitting with her eyes closed and arms out before a table of crystals, photos that will put you and your blurry vacation shots to shame. The video isn’t really about where Abramović has been, anyway; it’s about where she’s going, and that is Hudson, New York.

A model for the Marina Abramovic Institute (click to enlarge) (© OMA)
A model for the Marina Abramović Institute (click to enlarge) (© OMA)

Hudson is home of the future performance art venue/school/lab that Abramović is founding. As she explains in another video, on the MAI website, which also launched today, she wasn’t content to simply have a MoMA exhibition and then call it a day. “I need to create that space for all other artists, that performance really becomes mainstream art. It’s not just about you; it’s about others.” Which is only a little ironic when you consider the name of the institute, or go to the “Mission” page of the MAI website and see this (all caps theirs; not mine):

THE MARINA ABRAMOVIC INSTITUTE WAS FOUNDED BY MARINA ABRAMOVIC AND WILL SERVE AS HER LEGACY AND HOMAGE TO TIME-BASED AND IMMATERIAL ART.

As she says in that same video, “This is the future” — indeed.

Predictably, the Facebook video has been well-liked and shared and commented on (think lots of heart icons). Marina is, I think, a celebrity weirdly similar to someone like Justin Bieber: to her fans, she can do no wrong. To the performance and broader art community, that remains to be seen. For now, the future is still more than a year a way.

Marina’s Message to Facebook from Marina Abramovic Institute on Vimeo.

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