Marina Abramović has issued another apology, for a passage in her new memoir, which is to be published in October which described Aboriginal people as 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.”
Calling it “wholehearted” Her latest statement is full of regrets. “I have tried to live my life with courage and I have very few regrets. However, the events of the last week have been humbling. My choice to include in my unfinished memoir manuscript the passage from my 1979 diary that used such terrible language to describe my first impressions of Aboriginal peers in the Western Australian desert is one of these regrets. My heart has been aching continually since this came to light. My words were offensive and I want to wholeheartedly apologize to those who I have hurt as a result. The most painful part of it all is that I have hurt Aboriginal individuals who trusted me and that I perpetuated hurtful stereotypes of a people to whom I owe so much and respect so utterly. I know that the words I used felt like a betrayal and I am truly sorry. Devaluing the integrity, the beauty and the struggle of indigenous Australians, with whom Ulay and I lived from 1980 to 1981, must have seemed an assault on people who are particularly beloved and inspiring to me”.
Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2016