The Royal Academy of Arts is holding the largest solo exhibition by Marina Abramovic of the United Kingdom
Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, Londres (Reino Unido)
Hours: Del 23 de septiembre de 2023 al 1 de enero de 2024; de martes a domingo de 10 a 18 h. Viernes de 10 a 21 h.
This autumn, the Royal Academy of Arts will become the live performance art maison of the great Marina Abramovic, who was awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts and whose work spans over five decades.
“The exhibition, arranged in close collaboration with the artist, will provide an overview of her extraordinary work with photographs, videos, objects and installations.”
It will also feature four of her iconic performances which will be surprisingly restaged through her archive material while others will be reperformed by the next generation of live performance artists, trained in the Marina Abramovic method.
Live performance schedule:
“Imponderabilia” (1977): 4-6 daily performances of 1 hour.
“Nude with Skeleton” (2002): 2-3 daily performances of approximately 2 hours.
“Luminosity” (1997): 3-4 daily performances of approximately 30 minutes. From the 20th September to the 4thOctober, 16th October to the 31st October, 13th to 28th November, 11th December to 1st January.
“The House with the Ocean View” (2002): Continuous performances over 12 days, 24 hours a day. 5th to 15th October, 1st to 12th November, 29th November to 10th December.
The performances will conclude half an hour before closing at the latest. There will be breaks between performances that will vary from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours. The performance schedule may be subject to changes.
The body as medium for art
Born in Belgrade, in what was previously Yugoslavia, in 1946, Marina Abramovic is one of the most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Her life began after World War II, under Tito’s autocratic rule in Yugoslavia. She grew up in a suffocating home full of rules and lots of discipline. Although she was a girl back then and had to accept that that was her life, she managed to find the way to rebel and create art.
The body became her main medium, but also the malleability of time. And that has remained a constant feature throughout her vast career.
“I really think that I was born an artist. I don’t remember anything else as a child other than having a pencil and drawing.” Marina Abramovic
Although she studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, she began performing in the early 70s and since then, showed an interest in everyday actions, in resistance, repetition and physical and mental tolerance. She uses her body to explore these topics. Not only to experience them firsthand but to make us question certain situations that we may find uncomfortable but really interesting and stimulating.
In this early phase, she created “Rhythm 0” (1974), in which she offered herself as an object of experimentation to the audience, like she did in “Rhythm 5” (1974), where she lay in the centre of a five-pointed star in flames to the point of losing consciousness. With these performances, she pushed the limits of self-discovery, both her own and those of her audience. They also marked her first encounters with time, stillness, energy, pain and the heightened awareness that resulted from the long duration of these performances.
“The body has always been both her subject and medium, exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, withstanding pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation.”
Marina and Ulay
Marina Abramovic and the German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, also known as Ulay, formed one of the most important and influential artistic partnerships in performance art.
Their relationship lasted twelve years, from 1976 to 1988, and they carried out stunning performances throughout this period that were characterised by pushing the boundaries of body and mind.
Some of their most notable performances are: “Imponderabilia” (1977), where the two artists stood naked, facing each other, at the entrance to an art exhibition. That implied that those who wanted to visit the exhibition had to walk through the space between them and brush their bodies as they did so; “Relation in time” (1977), in which they were tied together by their hair while they looked in opposite directions for over 16 hours; “AAA-AAA” (1978), where they shouted at each other in an attempt to establish who was the most dominating; “Rest energy” (1980) where Marina held a bow and Ulay pulled the arrow while it pointed at her heart for four hours; “Death self”, in which they locked lips in a kiss that lasted seventeen minutes only to faint immediately after due to lack of oxygen.
The truth is that together they created the most memorable performances of both their careers. Although they separated in 1988, they both gave themselves fully to their love of art right up to their last performance, The Lovers, in which they walked 2,500 kilometres along the Great Wall of China, setting off alone from opposite ends, for ninety days.
In 1989 she returned to solo performances. And in 2010, she performed “The Artist Is Present” (2010), in which she sat absolutely still for at least eight hours a day for three months, maintaining silent eye contact with hundreds of strangers, one at a time, and also with famous admirers such as Bjork and Lou Reed.
50 years of Marina Abramovic at the Royal Academy of Arts
In this exhibition, four important works will be performed by emerging artists and other performances will be represented through films and photographs, together with installations, sculptures and drawings. It will all be arranged by themes, returning to key concerns such as spirituality, pain, the connection between the human and the divine…
The first section will bring together two of her most famous performances: “Rhythm 0” (1974) and “The Artist is Present”(2010). Held 45 years apart. And also “Rhythm 5” (1974) and “The Hero” (2001).
“I don’t compromise – I tell the truth, I’m not bullshitting.” Marina Abramovic
The exhibition will conclude with the performance “The House with the Ocean View” (2002). During its execution, the artist lived for twelve consecutive days in a house with only three spaces, that was purposely built at the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York. During this time, she did not eat, drinking only water, and she could not flee as the steps down were made of knives…
“I only do something if I’m afraid of it, because that’s the whole point.” Marina Abramovic
Abramovic has taken part in many large-scale international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1976, 1997) and Documenta VI, VII y IX, Kassel, Germany (1977, 1982 y 1992). She also created the MAI (Marina Abramovic Institute) to promote and support future exploration of performing arts.
Abramovic was also one of the first performance artists to be formally accepted in the institutional world of museums, with important solo exhibitions that have been held all over Europe and the United States for over 25 years. Her first European restrospective, “The Cleaner”, was presented at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden in 2017, and later at the Museum of Modern Art of Louisiana in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the Henie Onstad in Sanvika, Norway (2017), at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, Germany (2018), at the Centre of Contemporary Artin Toru? (2019) and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, Serbia (2019).
Her marvellous operatic project, “7 Deaths of Maria Callas”, debuted at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Germany, in 2020, and was presented at the Palais Garnier in Paris, France, and at the Greek National Opera in Athens, Greece, in 2021.
“Abramovic is the first female artist to present a major solo exhibition at the Main Galleries in the Royal Academy of Arts in London.”
(*) Photos provided by the Royal Academy of Arts. Courtesy of the Marina Abramovic Archives. Cover photo: The Artist is Present, 2010; Fixed photo 1: The Hero, 2001, fixed photo 2: The House with the Ocean View, 2002; Photo 1 carousel: The Current, 2017, photo carousel 2: Nude with Skeleton, 2005; Photo body text: Imponderabilia, 1977.
An interview with Dimitris Papaioannou about “Transverse Orientation”, his new masterpiece