“I test the limits of myself in order to transform myself, but I also take the energy from the audience and transform it. A powerful performance will transform everyone in the room” – Marina Abramovic
Marina Abramovic is a performance artist that in over 40 years of her career ruthlessly pushed boundaries of physical and mental limitations in her work such that during her performances she was cut, burnt and even almost died once. Just to give you an idea, in one of her performances she prepared 72 objects (e.g. scissors, a gun, a rose, a feather, a scalpel) for audience to use in whichever way they wished while she stayed still for 6 hours (Rhythm 0). And if you were following the past few of my posts, coincidentally, Marina played out her own funeral in a play Life and Death of Marina Abramovic.
The Matthew Akers’ documentary “The Artist is Present”, that recently came out, is about Marina’s life and work. It is named after Marina’s 2010 project at MoMA. 3-month, 736-hour performance involved people sitting with Marina in publicly displayed one-on-one sessions in silence. This eye-gazing exercise overwhelmed participants with emotions, made them cry (this is a fascinating set of pictures from her performance “Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry”), created several-block long lines and drew about 700K visitors to MOMA, like no other exhibition.
I can only imagine the depth of being with Marina one-on-one, but even through watching her in the movie, I was left with an experience that I know this person very intimately. This drawing openness of Marina is no coincidence – I think it is attributed to her working-out her emotional knots and exploring so much of her inner self through her art.
Marina says that unlike theater, in performance “knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real”. There is no place to hide and she made it very clear in all her work. “The Artist is Present” was just the next stepping stone in how much she could push herself to open.
I am much fascinated by the boundaries of consciousness and our physicality and I make my small steps in exploring my inner self. But I am way too terrified of pain and judgments of others to take it to Marina’s scale. I am grateful that someone is showing the way.
In case it didn’t come across – I highly recommend watching “The Artist is Present.”