The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic In Manchester

Marina Abramovic  is one of the most significant cultural figures of our time. The Manchester International Festival and Teatro Real Madrid have created a play about her life. The world premiere of this startling new piece for the stage takes place 9 July in Manchester as part of the festival. The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, is a biography of the godmother of performance art, re-imagined by visionary director Robert Wilson. The show features scenes from Abramović’s life and career, from her Serbian childhood to her work as a performance artist. Featuring original and traditional music, including songs written and performed by the incomparable Antony (Antony & The Johnsons), this ground-breaking show brings together the worlds of theatre, art and music to thrilling effect.

The Life and Death of Marina Abramović is a once in a generation cultural event, starring Marina Abramović, Willem Dafoe and an international cast of actors and performance artists.This is the first Robert Wilson production to be seen in the UK since The Temptation of St. Anthony in 2005.We are pleased to welcome Robert Wilson to the Festival for his  first UK show in five years, and to bring Marina and Antony back to Manchester following their appearances here in 2009. ‘The Life and Death of Marina Abramović’ is a good expression of what MIF was created for – new work made by some of the world’s leading artists.’ Alex Poots, Festival Director

The opera art form needs to develop new ways forward for the future. This could mean, of course, new composers but also projects developed by great visual artists, actors or singers who do not necessarily need to be opera singers. For sure, Antony, for example, brings a lyricism that in conjunction with Bob Wilson and Marina Abramović will make this production a real opera, just as Monteverdi would have loved. Gerard Mortier, Artistic Director, Teatro Real Madrid

The biennial festival also features shows by comedian Johnny Vegas and opens with an evening performance by musician Bjork of her new album, Biophilia.Two shows – Bjork’s and The Crash Of The Elysium, a Doctor Who show at Salford’s MediaCityUK, both previewed ahead of the official opening.This year’s event sees some famous names return, with musician Damon Albarn contributing for the third festival running.Mr Vegas, Ms Abramovic and world musicians Amadou and Mariam, from Mali, West Africa, are also making their MIF returns.

Marina Abramovic is known as the Godmother of Performance Art. She investigates and pushes the boundaries of physical and mental potential. In her performances she has lacerated herself, flagellated herself, frozen her body on blocks of ice, taken mind- and muscle-controlling drugs that have caused her to fall unconscious, and almost died from asphyxiation while lying within a curtain of oxygen-devouring flames.

Abramovic’s goal is not sensationalism, however. Her performances are a series of experiments aimed at identifying and defining limits: of her control over her own body; of an audience’s relationship with a performer; of art and, by extension, of the codes that govern society. Her profound and ambitious project is to discover a method, through art, to make people more free.

Many of Abramovic’s performances over the past 30 years have been brutal and unnerving. Some of them reached completion only when a member of the audience intervened. By seeking the point at which an audience reaches the limits of its endurance in witnessing pain or danger, Abramovic creates a point of rupture, radically highlighting the spectator’s own sense of the moment. She has said: ‘I’m interested in art that disturbs and that pushes that moment of danger; then, the public watching has to be here and now. Let the danger focus you; this is the whole idea – to put you in the focus of now.’   9 – 16 July 2011 The Lowry Manchester

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