I have been researching Marina Abramovic, the “Grandmother of performance art”. Her works aim is to push the limits of the human body “dramatically tested the endurance and limitations of her own body and mind”.
Abramovic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on the 30th of November 1946. In a post war environment, with both parents taking part in the army working as partisans. Because of this, and the way she was being treated by her mother, Abramovic was subsequently brought up by her grandparents who were very heavily religious, encouraging her to believe also. The unconventional upbringing Abramovic had could also play a factor into the controversial side of her works, and her very strong opinions.
Her life took a dramatic turn, after performing her piece “Thomas lips” and being approached by a viewer who proceeded to dress her wounds she had inflicted on herself during the performance. -this marked a huge milestone in Abramovics life, meeting Ulay. Afterwards their whirlwind relationship blossomed, creating performance art together, revolving around gender, relationships, etc. Through this time, they were staying in Ulays very small van, living off the bare minimum, and putting all their energy into escaping the modern world, and creating timeless performances.- some of their pieces include “Imponderabilia”1977′ where the couple proceeded to stand in a very narrow doorway in a gallery naked, to see which artist the people passing through would face, this was a performance to do with gender, as through doing this, they realised that the males would turn to face Marina when pushing through, and the females would face Ulay, the majority of the time. And “Rest Engery”1980′ Where both artists held the Bow, with Ulay holding the arrow and Abramovic holding the frame, before leaning back to produce tension on the bow and arrow, aiming directly into Abramovics chest. The aim of this piece is to show the trust in relationships in the most extreme measure.
Unfortunately the two artists relationship came to an end, and to mark this moment, they decided to go out ‘in style’, one starting at one end of the great wall of china, the other starting at the opposite end, which they named as their final performance together “The Lovers: the Great Wall Walk”1988′. After the breakup both of the artists works were altered dramatically. Ulay quitting performance art all together and going back to only doing photography, Abramovics performances turning much darker and receiving a lot more controversy from big articles and magazines.
Marinas later work got a lot of backlash from the public, people claiming it was satanic/ ritualistic, others claiming it was witchcraft. The pieces that received some of the most controversy were “spirit cooking”1997′ where Abramovic painted dark phrases over the gallery walls with pigs blood and guts. and “Thomas Lips” where she cuts a pentagram into her stomach with a blade, before repeatedly whipping herself and laying on a block of ice. Abramovic publicly brushes off the negative comments though, saying she doesn’t care if viewers don’t like/understand the work, as long as they find it thought provoking then she feels as though the work has done what it’s supposed to.
“the audience is like a dog. They can feel immediately that you are afraid that you are insecure, that you’re not in the right state of mind- and they leave”- Marina Abramovic