Performance artist Marina Abramovic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in
1946. She is primarily a European artist, living in Amsterdam since
1976, but has done extensive exhibiting in New York City. In
Amsterdam, she is a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts at
She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1972, completing postgraduate studies in Zagreb in 1972.
2002 in New York City, she put herself on display for twelve days on a
stage set at the Sean Kelly Gallery, sleeping, staring, standing,
meditating, fasting, urinating, defecating, contemplating, showering in
public before a gallery audience for one hundred eighteen of the
two-hundred seventy-one total performance hours. This work was
called "The House with the Ocean View."
From 1976 to 1988,
Abramovic and F. Uwe Laysiepen (performance name "Ulay") worked as a
performance team and created video and life-size Polaroid photography.
From 1981 to 1986, they presented Nightsea Crossing,
comprised of motionless meditation and concentration, in ninety sites
around the world. Their final performance saw them start walking
from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China until they came
together. In earlier works, they sat motionless, back to back,
hair tied together, for seventeen hours; screamed into each other's
open mouths until hoarse; repeatedly ran into each other.
Ulay was born in 1943 in Solingen, Germany. Their work was published in Marina Abramovic and Ulay: Relation Work and Detour (1980). In 1986 they received the Polaroid Video Art Award.
have been exhibited internationally at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam;
Venice Biennale; Paris Biennale; Documentas 6 and 7, Kassel, Germany;
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne;
De Appel, Amsterdam; The Tate Gallery, London; Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf;
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and The New
Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.
Thomas McEvilley, Art in America, April 2003
Marina Abramovic, Yugoslavian (1946 - )
1946 Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Lives in New York City.
Interview with Marina Abramovic in The New York Times
by Karen Rosenberg
the performance artist Marina Abramovic drew attention—within and
beyond the art world—when she starved herself for a twelve-day
endurance test, an event that gave 9/11-scarred New Yorkers something
else to talk about and later found its (fictionalized) way into a Sex
and the City episode. She's also known for re-creating performance
pieces by other artists, most prominently at the Guggenheim last month,
where she re-staged work by artists including Vito Acconci and Bruce
Nauman. Her filmed piece Balkan Erotic Epic
opens at the Sean Kelly
Gallery on December 9. Abramovic spoke to Karen Rosenberg.
R: Let's talk about the performances at the Guggenheim.
can't imagine how relieved I am that it's finished—it's something I
planned for twelve years. Most of the pieces weren't mine; I never saw
them and I'd never repeated anyone else's piece, so the responsibility
to do it right was enormous. Also, I don't rehearse, because
performance art is not about rehearsal; that's what makes it different
R: How did you re-create the works? You had to rely on photos, right?
felt like an archaeologist, trying to figure out from the ruins what
really happened. For the Vito Acconci piece Seedbed
, I had less than
three minutes of [recorded] material that wasn't even authorized; there
was no sound.
R: So how on earth did you—as a woman—perform that
piece? In the original, he masturbated for hours while hidden beneath a
ramp at the Sonnabend Gallery.
A: I have a lot of respect for this
piece. It's very different from my own work. He performed it for nine
days, eight hours a day. The whole idea of him producing seeds, a
metaphor for creation—for me it was extremely important to know what
the woman is producing. I went for the idea of producing moisture and
heat. Having orgasms publicly, being excited by the visitors steps
above me—it's really not easy, I tell you! I've never concentrated so
hard in my life. My friend gave me some sexy magazines, but I really
didn't use them. I concentrated on the sounds, and on the idea that I
had to have orgasms, as proof of my work. And so I did. I don't fake
it—I never fake anything. The problem for me, with this piece, was the
absence of public gaze: only the sound. But I heard that people had a
great time; it was like a big party up there! I ended with nine
orgasms. It was terrible for the next piece—I was so exhausted!
R: How would your work be different if a man performed it?
really think there's no difference between an art piece made by a man
and one made by a woman. Is it a good art piece or a bad art piece? Of
course, if you're female, you're maybe dealing with different issues.
R: Do you give people permission to redo your own work?
will often tell me when they've already done it; they'll send me a
letter. There are certain pieces you absolutely can't repeat without
informing me, because some of them are really dangerous, and I don't
want the responsibility. You have to see the person, see what is his
capacity, what is his experience.
R: In your last solo show at Sean
Kelly, The House With the Ocean View
, you lived in the gallery without
food for twelve days. Tell me about the new work, Balkan Erotic Epic.
I made House
, it was such a radical piece—pushing the limits as far as
I could. After that, I just wanted to do something different. I went to
the former Yugoslavia—I was interested in the roots of the culture,
which has a lot of pagan elements, and the idea of the "erotic." How we
see "erotic" today is so limited; we think erotic equals pornography.
The woman with her breasts exposed is a kind of erotic that's very
vulgar, very predictable, and we are fed by these very standard images.
In Balkan culture, the sexual organs, male and female, were used as
tools for taking evil away, connecting with the forces of nature. I
found all these different rituals, going back to the sixteenth century,
and staged them in a film. For instance: In the villages there would be
lots of rain, which would damage the growing corn—so all the women of
the village, from the very young to the very old, would run into the
fields and lift their skirts to scare the gods and make the rain stop.
It's an amazing image. There's nothing pornographic there, and it makes
you see your own organs in a completely different light.
1960 - 68 Paintings and drawings.
1965 - 70 Academy of Fine Arts, Belgrade.
1968 - 70 Projects, texts and drawings.
1970 - 72 Post diploma studies, Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb.
1970 - 73 Sound environments, exhibitions at Student Cultural Centre with Rasa Todosijevic, Zoran Popovic, Gergelj Urkom, Slobodan Milivojevic and Nesa Paripovic.
1973 - 75 Teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts, Novi Sad.
1973 - 76 Performances, video, films.
1975 Meets Ulay in Amsterdam
1976 Relation works with Ulay. Decision to make permanent movements and detours.
1980 - 83 Travels in Central Australian, Sahara, Thar and Gobi Deserts.
1983 Visiting professor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France.
1985 First visit to China.
1986 Second visit to China.
1987 Third visit to China.
1988 The Great Wall Walk: 30 April - 27 June.
After The Walk, begins to work and exhibit individually.
1988 - 90 Boat Emptying/Stream Entering
1990 - 91 Visiting professor at the Hochschule der Kunst, Berlin, Germany.
Visiting professor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France.
1992 - 96 Professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Hamburg.
Workshops, lectures, solo and group shows all over the world.
Completion of two major theatre performances: "Biography" and "Delusional."
1997 Professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Braunschweig, Germany.
1998 Board Member of the Contemporary Art Museum, Kitakyushu, Japan.
2001 Artist in Residence at the Atelier Calder, Saché, France.
2003 Winner of the Niedersächsicher Kunstpreis 2003.
Winner of the New York Dance and Performance Award for The House
with the Ocean View (The Bessies)
2004 Awarded an honorary doctorate from The Art Institute of Chicago
2005 Performed Seven Easy Pieces at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York
2006 Honored by Artist's Space and +ART
Honored by the Guggenheim at 2006 International Gala
SOLO AND GROUP SELECTED EXHIBITIONS: 2000 to 2006
Balkan Erotic Epic, SESC, San Paulo, Brazil.
Balkan Epic, Art for the World Project, Pirelli, Milan, Italy.
Into Me / Out of Me, PS1, New York, NY; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany.
WATCH OUT, Beaumontpublic, Luxembourg
The Biography Remix [Performances], Avignon Theatre Festival, Avignon, France.
Photographies et Objets/Count On Us, Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Geneva, Switzerland.
(Re)Presenting Performance [Symposium], Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Self Portrait with Skeleton [Performance], Art Basel, Art Unlimited, Basel, Switzerland.
Seven Easy Pieces [Performances], Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New
Balkan Erotic Epic, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
5th Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Another Expo: Beyond the Nation-State, Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Japan; White Box, New York.
The Artist's Body. Then and Now, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Genève,
CCA Kitakyushu Artist's Books, Christophe Daviet-Thery, Paris.
Conflict: Perspectives, Positions, Realities in Central European Art, Slought Foundation, Philadelphia, PA.
Donna Donner, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy.
DreamingNow, The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.
East Art Museum - A (Re) Construction of the History of Contemporary Art (1945-1985) in Eastern Europe, Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum, Hagen, Germany.
Figure It Out, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, New York.
Fragments of Time, Yellow Bird Gallery, Newburgh, New York.
The Gesture, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece; Quarter, Center for Contemporary Arts, Florence, Italy.
Getting Emotional, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MASS.
Indeterminant States, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL.
La Galleria dell'Amore: Let Love Blossom with IPG [Curator], Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Trento, Italy. Me, Myself and I: artist self-portraits from the Heather & Tony Podesta Collection, Curator's Office, Washington, DC; Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach, VA.
Melancholia, Jensen Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand.
Miradas Y Conceptos En La Collección Helga de Alvear, Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo (MEIAC), Badajoz, Spain.
Suddenly Older, Clifford Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY.
Take Two. Worlds and Views: Contemporary Art from the Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Videographies - The Early Decades from the EMST collection, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece.
Biography Remix, Fondazione Roma Europa, Rome, Italy.
Performing Body: Video Works By Marina Abramovic, The Speed Art
Museum, Louisville, KY.
Loop Performance, (IPG) P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY.
Art Unlimited: ArtBasel 2004, Basel, Switzerland.
Exhibit and Silent Auction, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY.
Belgrade Art Inc, Secession, Austria.
Cetinje Biennial, Ceninje, Montenegro.
Camera/Action, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia
College, Chicago, IL.
Collected Views from East to West, Generali Foundation, Austria.
Depicting Love, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany.
Maya Lin: Earth Drawings, The Wanas Foundation, Sweden.
Performance en Vivo, Museo de Arte, Puerto Rico.
2004 Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
Performing Body, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY.
Video Killed the Radio Star, La Fabrica Gallery, Spain.
The Netherlands Media Art Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Student Body, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
The Star, Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan.
La Fábrica, Madrid, Spain. Traveling exhibition/ Traveled to Maragame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa, Japan.
The Invisible Thread: Buddhist Spirit in Contemporary Art, Newhouse
Center for Contemporary Art, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, NY.
Video Evenings, MARTa pre-opening event, MARTa Herford/Museum of Art and Design, Herford, Germany.
Air, James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY.
Banquete - International Traveling Exhibition, Palau de la Virreina,
Barcelona, Spain. Traveled to ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain.
upon reflection…., Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, NY.
Video Acts: Single Channel Works from the Collections of Pamela and
Richard Kramlich and New Art Trust, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, NewYork, NY. Traveled to Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England.
The House with the Ocean View, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, NY.
Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan, Italy.
Galerie Cent8, Paris, France.
Oxygen, Whitebox Art Gallery, New York, NY.
Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA.
Moving Pictures, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.
Building Structures, P.S.1. Museum of Modern Art, Long Island City, NY.
In Search of Balkania, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz,
Marina Abramovic: The Hero, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture
Garden, Washington, DC.
Marking the Territory, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland.
The Hunt, (video installation), Project Gallery at Center for Contemporary
Art Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu, Japan.
Spirit Houses, (site-specific project), Bourganeuf, France; Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy.
Energy Clothes, (performance and video installation), Atelier Calder, Saché, France.
Body and the East: From the 1960's to the Present, Exit Art, New York, NY.
Echoes of the Scream, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Ishoj, Denmark.
El Instante Eterno, Espai D'Art Contemporani de Castelló, Valencia, Spain.
Giganti: Arte Contemporanea, Fori Imperiali, Rome, Italy.
Holy Sports and 13, (video installation), Center of Academic Resources,
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.
Hypermental - Wahnhafte Wirklichkei 1950-2000, Hamburger Kunsthalle,
Pat Hearn Gallery: Part 2 (1988-1994), Pat Hearn Gallery, New York, NY.
Site Specific Projects, (video installation and site-specific project), N.M.A.C.
Montenmedio Arte Conteporaneo, Cadiz, Spain.
Yokohama 2001, International Triennial of Contemporary Art, (installation),
Cleaning the House: Traveling Cabinet, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.
Galerie Cent8, Paris, France.
Marina Abramovic: Luminosity, Insomnia, Dissolution 1997, University of
Florida, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL.
Marina Abramovic: Soul Operations Room, Kappatos Gallery, Athens, Greece.
Public Body - Artist Body, (performance, video installations, objects),
Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, Germany
Acoustic Architecture Architectural Acoustics, Aronson Gallery #1,
Parsons School of Design, New York, NY.
Anableps, Studio Stefania Miscetti, Rome, Italy.
Animal, Anima, Animus, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada.
Arteast Collection: The Art of Eastern Europe in Dialogue with the West;
From the 1960s to the Present. The Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Das Gedächtnis der Kunst, Historiches Museum, Schirn Kunsthalle,
Dream Machines, a National Touring Exhibition organized by the Hayward Gallery, London, for the Arts Council of England. Exhibition tour: Dundee Contemporary Arts, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, and Camden Arts Centre, London.
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000, (installation), Sarugaku-cho,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s, MIT List Visual
Arts Center, Boston, MA.
Galerie Ingrid Dacié, Tübingen, Germany.
Heimat Kunst, (performance photographs), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany.
Hypermental. Rampant Reality 1950-2000 from Salvador Dali to Jeff Koons, (video installation), Kunsthaus Zurich. Traveled to Hamburger Kunsthall, Hamburg, Germany; Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic.
Insistent Memory: The Architecture of Time in Video Installation,
University of Florida, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL.
La Forma del Mondo/ La Fine del Mondo, (video installation), PAC (Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea), Milan, Italy.
Lie of the Land earth body material, John Hansard Gallery, University of
Southampton, Southhampton, England.
Lost Paradise Lost, Ev. Luth Stadkirchenverband, Hannover/Hamburg, Germany.
Ma Sorciere bien aimée, Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg,
Performing Bodies, (video), Tate Modern, London, England.
Stanze e Secreti, Milan, Italy.
Ventana hacia Venus - Window onto Venus, Bienal de la Habana, Teatro
National/Galeria Rene Portocarrero, Havana, Cuba.
Video Time: Survey of Videos from the Museum of Modern Art's
Renowned Collection Traces the History of the Medium, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Voici - 100 and d'art contemporain, (video installation), Palais des Beaux
Arts, Brussels., Belgium.
Zeitwenden, (public performance and installation), Ludwig Museum,
Central Europe 1949-1999, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY.