Marina Abramović in London

I know that you’re not supposed to have favourites, but Marina Abramović, really is one of my favourite contemporary artists today, which is a paradox because I often find performance art hard and durational. It requires so much attention, and time (which is something I’m often short of), but I find her work inspirational. Abramović demands your attention, and you can’t help being intrigued.

Not only is she intensely creative, and limitless, but Abramović is also a really lovely person. Her dietary and exercise regime (remember she’s 64-years-old) put the rest of us to shame. I always think about some of her seminal pieces, and you can see how groundbreaking her work was (and still is). She’s a pioneer and the more I know about her, and study her work, I can see how important performance art is – I love the transience, but I also like the idea of the re-performance. Think about how a piece performed in the 1970s will impact upon today’s crowd, her work says so much about the way we live and has captured the spirit of the times, again and again.

I caught up with her for the MoMa show, The Artist Is Present, and spent two wonderful hours finding out more about her, as well chatting about grand ideas to the practicalities of opening the Marina Abramović Institute (for the preservation of performance art), which she will be opening next year in Hudson, New York. She put me straight though, when talking about Hudson – it’s been years since I’ve been there (I grew up in the Catskills, and so I have memories of the place), but apparently it’s stepped up a gear or two. I’ll definitely have to visit next time I’m back in New York.

This October Marina Abramović, will be in London at Lisson Gallery (13 October -13 November). Of course, Marina participated in MIF in 2009, but this new exhibition comprises both new and old works. Spread over the two galleries, this major exhibition will explore the corporeal and cerebral output of her work as a performance artist.

Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramović has led the way in performance as a visual art form. Described as ‘one of the defining artists of radical performance’ by Arthur C. Danto in The Artist is Present (2010), she has transcended the form’s provocative origins and created some of the most important works in the genre. Challenging, uncompromising and often shocking, Abramović’s durational practice continually experiments with, and explores the boundaries of, both her mental and physical endurance and that of her audience. With her body as both subject and medium, she tests the relationship between performer and audience, withstanding pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional, liberating and conscious altering transformation.

In connection to her show at Lisson Gallery, Marina Abramović will be speaking at Tate Modern as part of the Talking Art series, 16 October 2010, 2-3.30pm. She will also be participating in the Serpentine Gallery’s Map Marathon: Maps for the 21st Century, 16-17 October 2010, a multi-dimensional event curated by Serpentine Gallery Co-Director Hans Ulrich Obrist.

The show opens 13 October – 13 November 2010, Lisson Gallery, 52-54 and 29 Bell Street, London.

For further reading: Marina Abramović + The Future of Performance Art (Prestel 2010)

Image: Portrait with White Lamb (2010). Courtesy Marco Anelli and Marina Abramovic