Marina Abramović has taken over the Serpentine Gallery to present a unique work. The globally acclaimed artist began her performance in the Gallery for the duration of her exhibition: 10am to 6pm, 6 days a week until 25 August. Creating the simplest of environments in the Gallery spaces, Abramović’s only materials will be herself, the audience and a selection of common objects that she will use in a constantly changing sequence of events. The performance at the press view was limited to taking journalists by the hand and walking with them while asking them to face the wall and “relax”. The audience was ordered to leave behind mobile phones cameras and iPads and to pass through the empty space, without dependant tools of the trade. “We want people to come as they are, with nothing, as I am. From then we will see what is going to happen. From that energy, every day is different.”
For the duration of the work Ms Abramovic will be guarded by security and this squad will play a roll in the performance. “In these lockers they can put their BlackBerries and phones and camera and computers and watches,” the artist said. “We don’t want people to come here and phone and blog and tweet before they have even seen it, as they do all the time. The public thus becomes the performing body, participating in the delivery of an unprecedented moment in the history of performance art.
The Belgrade-born artist, 67 is a pioneer of performance as an art form, using her own body as subject and object, she has pushed the physical and mental limits of her being. This is the first major performance by Abramović since her monumental piece The Artist is Present, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2010, in which visitors were invited to sit in silence opposite the artist and gaze into her eyes for an unspecified amount of time. Abramović performed this work every day for three months.
The exhibition draws upon the history of Abramović’s use of her body as the basic material of her artwork. During her residency at the Serpentine, the artist will, for the first time, commit to an unscripted and improvised presence in the space of the Gallery.
In the early 1970s, as a young artist in Belgrade, Abramović began exploring the relationship between artist and audience. Since 1978 she has conducted a series of workshops with art students, using a series of simple exercises to increase physical and mental awareness. Over the course of her career, Abramović has continued to develop these workshops, expanding their scope to reach a general public, through the Marina Abramović Institute.
Photo:© PC Robinson Artlyst 2014
Marina Abramović: 512 Hours: Serpentine Gallery 11 June – 25 August 2014 – Free