Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Marina Abramovic

One of the most interesting and my personal favorite performance artists is Marina Abramovic. She was born in the former Yugoslavia around the same time as my parents and calls herself the "grandmother of performance art." Her father left the family and afterwards her mother was extremely strict with her and her brother. According to Abramovic she was not allowed to stay out past 10 o'clock in the evening until she was 29. Of her curfew and her performances she said "All the performances in Yugoslavia I did before 10 o'clock in the evening because I had to be home then. It's completely insane, but all of my cutting myself, whipping myself, burning myself, almost losing my life in the firestar, everything was done before 10 in the evening."
Abramovic's pieces are perhaps best known for her experimenting with the limits of her body and mind sometimes putting herself into extreme and intense circumstances that can require months of training beforehand. Her performances include using a tape recorder and 20 knives on herself playing the knife game 5-finger fillet. Each time she would cut herself she would move onto a new knife. She almost died during a performance involving a large star lit on fire because when she lept through it the lack of oxygen caused her to lose consciousness and the audience thought it was part of the show so they did not get up immediately to help. My favorite performance is entitled The Artist is Present which lasted from March 14 until May 31, 2010 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The whole piece lasted almost 737 hours where she sat at a table immobile and silent, staring straight forward. Whoever attended could sit across from her for up to seven hours. It attracted celebrities like Lady Gaga and Sharon Stone and made some people break down into tears while they sat across from the artist. She continues to push the limits of her and The Artist is Present took months to train for mentally and physically according to Abrambovic her body will never be the same again. I believe she is a true performance artist who would do just about anything for her work.

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