Pioneering performance artist Marina Abramovic admits to not being a vampire, when asked about her eternally youthful looks. Self-described as the “grandmother of performance art” she is constantly examining the relationship between artist and audience, body and mind. And, while the artist may not be a vampire, the Artist is Present.
From the Guardian:
Marina Abramovic abolishes all boundaries between art and life. In the 1970s she pioneered “performance art”, but the reason I have put that well-worn term into inverted commas is that it is too narrow a description of her, even if it’s one she chooses. The exciting thing about Abramovic is that she makes art into life and life into art. This was made very apparent when she went on Reddit this week to converse with her fans in an “Ask me anything” session.
Her love life, her money life, her age (and whether she comes from a long line of vampires from Montenegro) – the questions covered all these, and Abramovic gave disarming answers.
In the 1970s she collaborated with the artist Ulay who was also her lover. Their personal and working relationship ended with a performance on the Great Wall of China that culminated in a last hug. So one Reddit question was: how did that last hug feel? Here is her answer:
“One of the most painful moments of my life. I knew this is over, I knew it was the end of a very important period of my life. I just remember I could not stop crying.”
It’s an answer that says more about Abramovic than a pile of textbooks on contemporary art might express. This is what she does. She makes art that is directly emotional, in which her entire being is at risk: her work with Ulay was a massive part of her career, so when their relationship ended they risked shattering their artistic legacy as well as their lives. She tells another questioner why artists should never fall in love with artists: “I have done this three times, and each time I had the heart broke …”
And another still on why she doesn’t have children:
“I never wanted to … I never had the biological clock running like other women. I always wanted to be an artist and I knew that I could not divide this energy into anything else. Looking back, I think it was the right decision.”
This is more like an audience with a famous soap opera star (or character?) than a conventional art seminar. Abramovic is asked how she appears never to have aged (she was born in 1946) – is she a vampire? She replies that her grandmother and great-grandmother both lived to more than 100 and kept their youthful looks.
Like a crazy soap opera, this has an impossibly dramatic climax. Abramovic is asked what it felt like when Ulay came to her 2010 performance The Artist Is Present at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City: “Entire life of our 12 years together went like a fast forward film …”
You can see this moment on video. In her MoMA performance, Abramovic simply sat there for 700 hours and people were invited to sit opposite her, looking into her eyes. Most of them ended up crying. But she was caught in a drama of her own on the day Ulay arrived and sat with her. It’s an amazing thing to see – a soap opera of MoMA’s own.
Read the entire article here.