The life of renowned performance artist Marina Abramovich is both interesting and inspiring, full of exceptional artistic experiments, adventures, pain and love. Maria Boicova-Wynants reflects her emotions after reading a book*
*intro by ArtLaw.club
Mediator, Business Writer, Trademark and Patent Attorney
Marina Abramović. Walk Through Walls.
Performance art is a difficult genre, and not only from the legal perspective. I must admit I was never a fan of it. Therefore, up until recently I knew merely about the existence of a performance artist Marina Abramović and could name a few of her iconic pieces. Not more than that. Moreover, I was not even interested to learn more. However, then I stumbled upon her TED talk and as prompted looked into her eyes for 2 minutes... That intrigued me to get to know the artist better, so I got my hands on her memoir “Walk Through Walls”.
Long story short, this was is an honest, fascinating and insightful story of a woman, whose life embraced the wildest adventures imaginable, historic encounters and truly one of a kind artistic experiments. It is surely one of the best books I have read recently.
In the book, Marina Abramović talks both about her life with all its hurdles and achievements, and about her art, which reflected all that richness of experience. In fact, after reading the book I felt I became more intimately acquainted with the artist. I am still not a fan of performance art in general, but I do find some of the pieces by Marina Abramović to be mind-blowing.
Take Rhythm 0, for example, when Abramović was standing still for six hours, while the audience could do to her whatever they pleased, using one of the 72 objects lying on a table (from an innocent feather to a gun with one bullet). This piece exploring how far the public could go would still be relevant and timely nowadays, yet it was performed as early as in... 1974. How could an artist conceive such a timeless piece when performance art was at its infancy? The "Walk Through Walls" gives a glimpse into the early life of Marina Abramović, her thoughts, influences, fears, and hopes, all those experiences which made her herself: as a person and as an artist. That might give a clue to the answer.
Another piece by Abramović, which I find amazing, even though very disturbing, is Balkan Baroque. For this piece, the artist made a compilation of several elements: interviews with her parents, a video telling a story of the rat-catcher told by Abramović dressed as a doctor, then her switching into a sexy dancer, dancing to the Balkan rhythms. All this was happening in the background, while in the front, the artist was sitting dressed in white on top of the pile of cow bones and was persistently cleaning them for seven hours a day. Highly disturbing. At the same time, it is extremely powerful imagery denouncing the Balkan war, or any other war for that matter. “You can’t wash the blood from your hands as you can’t wash the shame from the war.” For this piece Abramović got awarded a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1997. The story of coming into being of this performance also finds its place on the pages of "Walk Through Walls".
Finally, of course, The Artist is Present, the seminal performance piece from the MoMA show of 2010 with the same name. In Marina Abramović’s own words this piece has changed her life. I bet! For three months she was sitting in the middle of the atrium at MoMA for 8 hours a day (10 hours on Friday) looking into the eyes of visitors who came to sit on an empty chair in front of her. The memoir describes the origin of this performance, touches upon the insane preparation the artist had to go through for it and the feelings and thoughts she had in the process and beyond.
Marina Abramović undoubtedly had (and luckily still has) an extraordinary life with enough experiences to fill up many. Her memoir "Walk Through Walls” invites a reader for an intimate walk with the artist through some of her life journeys, shares her inspirations and struggles, moments of pain and love. This is a true page-turner, which will be an interesting read not only for art aficionados and the artist’s fans but for the general public alike.