Marina Abramović defies any attempts at cosy curtailment within genres. This is not by her own contrariness – she recently described herself as the “grandmother of performance art” – but rather because over more than three decades of creativity, her extraordinary work has flowered far beyond the remits of comfortable genre specification. She is fearless in using herself as a canvas and tool, stating that “once you enter into the performance state you can push your body to do things you absolutely could never normally do.” Vitally her work is a full frontal assault on the customary passivity of the audience – in Rhythm 0, 1974, she presented spectators with her inert body and a range of implements ranging from a rose to a gun with an invitation to them to stroke, manipulate, even hurt her submissive form; in The Artist is Present, 2010, she shared a period of silence with audience members who came to sit opposite her, a moment so profound that many participants were moved to tears.
Originally born in Serbia, Abramović moved to New York fourteen years ago, but a few years into her time there she began to feel that the frenzied energy of the city was exhausting her. In an exclusive video made by Derek Peck for AnOthermag.com earlier this year, she described it as “almost like vampirism…I was looking for a place where I could go …just to hug a tree or sit by the river.” The place she found is 620 Columbia St., Hudson, NY, but it has been repurposed from a hideaway into the future home of the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), an interdisciplinary performance and education centre, home to long durational work and the Abramović Method. A revolutionary institution, like nothing that has existed before, the MAI will serve to record the history of performance art, and provide edification and space for students of the practice.
"A revolutionary institution, like nothing that has existed before, the MAI will serve to record the history of performance art, and provide edification and space for students of the practice"
This is an entirely unique project and one that has been set in motion by the work and finances of Abramović herself, yet it requires a significant sum to push it into reality. In order to ensure this, the MAI have created a Kickstarter campaign, asking fans of both Marina and long duration art to donate to the realization of the project. In return for donations of any amount, from $5 to $10,000, those who pledge will receive a portion of this extraordinary artistic endeavour. Here, as part of our campaign to help this come to fruition, AnOther give five good reasons why Marina deserves your support. With just 19 days to go to raise the $600,000 need to fund this fantastic foundation, we hope you agree.
1. The MAI will benefit the global community, creating an archive and museum of performance art
The MAI will build a platform for international collaborations between individuals across a variety of disciplines. As the only international institute whose focus is the preservation and staging of long durational works, it will serve as a home for anyone wishing to participate in the exploration of long durational performance. It will guard against repetition in the form, the risk of young artists championing work as new that was actually first performed many years before. And by gaining knowledge of the past and the history of performance art, artists will gain the skills and education to create boundary pushing work in the future.
2. The MAI will teach audiences how to experience performance art
As Marina herself says, “The public never learn how to see performance art. They never learn how to see something that is long durational. They never learn what to do with their breathing, with their mind, with their time. How to see something where nothing’s happening, nothing’s moving.” The Institute will teach and inculcate these skills, expanding the minds of its visitors in a lasting way.
3. Contributions are tax deductable
Contributions to this project are to be made payable to Marina Abramovic Institute and are up to 80% tax deductible.
4. "If you give me your time, I will give you experience"
When you enter the space you have to sign a contract – swearing on your word of honour – that you will spend at least six hours there. Teaching perseverance and ensuring a space for mind expansion, with a lab coat to wear, headphones to block the sound and all time related items stowed in a locker, the hours spent in the MAI will be an unique and entirely edifying experience, one that will allow a fuller appreciation of performance art in the future.
5. Marina has given us so much, let's give her something back
For over three decades, Abramovic has been dedicated to performance art, continuing to inspire and enthral her audience. In the name of her craft, she has repeatedly stabbed her own hand with a knife, jumped through flames and sitting in MoMA for 736 hours and 30 minutes. She marked the ending of her working and personal relationship with her lover Ulay in a hug that was the final moment of a performance piece upon the Great Wall of China. Her work, in its unparalled intensity, truth and humanity moves audiences, and an often jaded art world, to tears. This potency requires recognition and preservation, as provided by the MAI.
Donate any amount to the MAI here
Text by Tish Wrigley