Marina Abramovic

Year and place of birth: 1946, Belgrade, Serbia Location: New York, United States

Marina Abramović is one of the pioneers of body art, an offshoot of the performance art that emerged in the early 1970s. Members of the movement, which include important artists such as Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, Chris Burden and Abramović herself, explicitly chose to prioritise their body as an artistic form of expression. This resulted in sometimes confronting performances. In the 1980s and 1990s, Abramović gained huge international recognition for her performances (often executed with her partner Ulay) that explored physical limits and human endurance. Although seldom sensational, these works were often characterised by self-harm and exhaustion and thus interpreted as violent and dangerous. Abramović regards public participation in her performances as essential. She always strives to create an ‘energetic dialogue’ with the viewer and seeks an “emotional and spiritual transformation, both for herself and for the audience”. The aggressive, damaging aspect of Abramović’s work slowly dissipated in the 1990s and she focused on artworks with a more object-like character (which she describes as ‘in-between objects’), such as videos, sculptures, installations and photos. The idea of mutual energy exchanges is still present in these works but shifts from a physical to a more spiritualised nature: the works acquire a mental architecture.


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