Marina Abramović’s new memoir, which is to be published in October, has caused a social media storm and people are branding her a racist because of an out of context passage in the book which compares Aboriginal people and dinosaurs. The 384-page book, titled ‘Walk Through Walls’, is currently making the rounds on sites like Facebook and Twitter in the build-up to release. The collector’s edition, “comes with an uncoated cover enclosed in a die-cut slipcase featuring black foil stamping on the spine.” It sells for mega dollars. The memoir is billed as “a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist”.
But the following passage has offended and this has resulted in an outcry. “Aborigines are not just the oldest race in Australia; they are the oldest race on the planet. They look like dinosaurs,” she writes. They are really strange and different, and they should be treated as living treasures. Yet they are not.“But at the same time, when you first meet them, you have to put effort into it. For one thing, to Western eyes, they look terrible. Their faces are like no other faces on earth; they have big torsos (just one bad result of their encounter with Western civilisation is a high sugar diet that bloats their bodies) and sticklike legs.”
Well, you decide? I think it sounds quite foreign, ie someone with English as a second language and it may be just that. However, whether her editor should have called the shots here is where the debate begins…Crown Archetype shares a responsibility here and the editor should be fired!
Ms Abramović has retaliated, “I have the greatest respect for Aborigine people, to whom I owe everything. The time I spent with members of the Pijantjatjara and Pintupi tribes in Australia was a transformative experience for me and one that has deeply and indelibly informed my entire life and art. The description contained in an early, uncorrected proof of my forthcoming book is taken from my diaries and reflects my initial reaction to these people when I encountered them for the very first time way back in 1979. It does not represent the understanding and appreciation of Aborigines that I subsequently acquired through immersion in their world and carry in my heart today”.
This brings us to the title question, Is Marina Abramovic A Racist Colonial Or Just Out Of Touch?