Abramoviç began her career in the early 1970s and is these days described as the “grandmother of performance art.” Her work explores the relationship between the performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.
In a unique work created especially for the gallery, Abramović has been performing six days a week during the gallery’s opening hours. As in many of her performance, Abramović’s only materials are herself, the audience, and a selection of props that she may or may not use.
Says the gallery: “On arrival, visitors will both literally and metaphorically leave their baggage behind in order to enter the exhibition: bags, jackets, electronic equipment, watches, and cameras may not accompany them. The public will become the performing body, participating in the delivery of an unprecedented moment in the history of performance art.”
Adrian Searle in his review of the performance in The Guardian on July 18 said that almost 60,000 people visited to that date and gave audiences hints on what to expect: “Marina Abramović teach[es] you mindfulness by slowly drinking a glass of water, writing your name on a piece of paper, and counting grains of rice.”
“Some stay hours or even all day, recording their experiences on Tumblr. Many return, more than once… On my first visit she and her helpers took us, one by one, to stand in front of the walls and windows, where we stood, eyes closed, to think about the present, or whatever it is we think about when we are standing, waiting for nothing. There is never nothing, always something. Thoughts of bills to pay and world peace. Sexual fantasy, should I try Botox, and did I leave the iron on? It is hard to be in the moment. Harder to leave the self behind,” Searle continues.
This is the first major performance by the artist since her monumental piece The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2010, in which visitors were invited to sit opposite the artist in silence and gaze into her eyes for an unspecified amount of time.
Watch the artist’s daily diaries here.
Marina Abramović: 512 Hours finishes on August 25, 2014 at the Serpentine Gallery, London. Don’t miss it.
Title image source: © 2014 Marco Anelli