Following its world premiere last year at the Manchester International Festival, tomorrow night New York will see its own celebration of The Life And Death Of Marina Abramović, the magnificent theatrical mega-production...
Following its world premiere last year at the Manchester International Festival, tomorrow night New York will see its own celebration of The Life And Death Of Marina Abramović, the magnificent theatrical mega-production, combining the talents of director Robert Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Antony [of Antony and the Johnsons] and Abramović herself.
Hosted by CoSTUME NATIONAL and Ennio Capasa, the event will preview New York photographer Tim Hailand's forthcoming revelatory photo book, One Day in the Life of Robert Wilson’s The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, alongside a video installation by Italian filmmaker Giada Colagrande, detailing the creation, rehearsal and outstanding performance of the production in Manchester. Designer Capasas is a longstanding friend of Abramović: "the first time I saw her, I was mesmerised by her incredible energy. I'm really inspired by her continuous quest of the relationship between the performer and the audience", he told AnOther.
"A captivating, emotional performance that takes its audience from her childhood to her prolific work as a performance artist"
Acclaimed Serbian artist Abramović first started her biographical work in 1987, following her break-up with her long-term collaborator and lover Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen), and worked with directors Charles Atlas and Michael Laub to interpret her life. For the fifth and final installment, she invited Robert Wilson to direct her biography – an unprecedented step for an artist who has historically had full control of her work, including a three-month chair occupancy at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The result: a captivating, emotional performance that takes its audience from her childhood to her prolific work as a performance artist.
Abramović has always carefully stage-managed how her performances are documented, and invited photographer Tim Hailand to document the unique, unprecedented collaboration, including Abramovic's personal research, backstage and many of the production's key scenes. Ahead of the launch, AnOther spoke exclusively to Hailand about his experience of the project...
When did you first meet Marina?
It was backstage at the Lowry Theatre on the day these images were shot. She was about to go on stage, so my impression of her was that she was very focused, but also very open, very kind.
How would you describe seeing The Life and Death of Marina Abramović for the first time?
I was in the theatre all day shooting the rehearsals, so I saw certain scenes many times, Also, as I am working – with a camera between me and the performance – I experience the piece in a different way than just sitting there and watching. Bob [Robert Wilson] is one of the great theatre directors of the 20th century, to see his images realised on stage is a great thrill. I knew when I was photographing the image of Marina and Antony together that it would be the cover – it's just a perfect image that Bob Marina and Antony create, that I am able to capture. Also, upon first seeing the piece, Marina and Antony most stood out to me; when I saw two days later, Willem really become the backbone on which the whole piece rested. He's a really brilliant performer. The culmination of all that talent on stage is remarkable. The second act is especially beautiful.
What's your favourite image in the book?
I like the image of Bob and Antony and Billy Basinski [composer] sitting in the audience watching the performers on stage. Antony had just been on stage and was now sitting and observing with Bob – I think it tells a story, and also nice that the "audience members" and the "stage members" are together. I like as well the images that show the refined beauty and vision of Bob's work, as well as the images that show the humour and humanity of the performers.
Tim Hailand's book One Day in the Life of Robert Wilson’s The Life and Death of Marina Abramović is available for pre-order now exclusively here ahead of release on April 11, 2012.
The Life and Death of Marina Abramović will travel to Teatro Real in Madrid from April 11-22, and to Theater Basel, in Basel, Switzerland from June 13-15, 2012.
Text by Laura Bradley