Born in Belgrade (Yugoslavia), 1946
Lives & works in New York (United States)
Very active in: 80s, 90s, 2000s, Current decade

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Marina Abramović is a performance artist who began her career in the early 1970's. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade from 1965-70 and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia in 1972. From 1973 to 1975 she taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, while carrying out her first solo performances. In 1976 Abramović left Yugoslavia and moved to Amsterdam where she met the German performance artist Uwe Laysiepen (who became famous under the name of Ulay). Strangely enough, they were both born on the same day.

I believe the artist should be an antenna, a vibrating antenna
By Blai Mesa

Starting out as a painter, Abramović subsequently shifted her focus to conceptual work, sound installations and mainly performances. She started in 1973 performing several works such as "Rhythm", in which she intended to stretch the limits of her body and mind. This theme appears in all her work, especially in her collaborative work with Ulay: "Imponderabilia", "Incision", "Relation in Time, "Space and Movement" and others. Themes like the relationships of emotional dependency are registered in "Light/dark", "Rest energy" or "The onion". She also explores aspects of the spiritual mind in works like: "Spirit House" or "The Lips of Thomas" in whichAbramović introduces her own language, direct and effective and at the same time introspective and mysterious, inviting the public to take a different approach to the meaning. Abramović creates a strong discourse embodied in extreme performances and powerful installations, the best example of which may be "Balkan Baroque" (Venice Biennale 1996).

Public reaction is the final point of Abramović intentions. Therefore her creative process starts with an introspective journey, as she argues: "The only thing about being an artist is that you must go inside of yourself because this is the thing you really know. The deeper you go inside of yourself, the more you encounter another side of yourself on which people can project. If you take all the personal stuff out of an idea, it's no longer just a private thing. You have to transform it to shift these ideas to another perspective for things to become a kind of universal or transcendent truth for anybody else". "I can only talk about spaces or experiences if I have been there. Otherwise I cannot presume things. I need to be honest, to have gone through this experience and then do something from this."

So what one experiences with the physical limits of the body, with the emotional relations and with the spiritual mind are the semantic fields where Abramović has build her creative work. Her work is directly connected with the 70's wave of artists like Anna Mendieta, Bruce Nauman, or Vitto Acconci. Like Nauman and Acconci, Abramović uses photography and video as a medium to document her performances. Her relationship with video starts with documenting, later she uses it as a part of the installations and finally as a proper video art piece. We could argue in a way that the closer she gets to video language the more she starts to explore and produce works that are exclusively elaborated to stretch the medium: The Hero and The onion are good examples.

Abramović is the kind of artist for whom life and work are very connected. Her work is the kind of art that shakes and shocks you, connecting you directly with people's life experience which results in Abramovic acquiring this very uncommon aura of The Artist.

About these Abramović argues: "If you look in history, the most difficult thing is to work in a simple way but if you succeed you can reach everybody. I'm not sure how many artists do this but I start with hundreds of ideas running around in my baroque mind and then I start reducing, reducing. Can I say one thing with twenty things, then with four, then three - finally can I say it with just one thing - a economic art. There are today, thousands and thousands of artists producing all kinds of art. The studios are stuffed with works - like a post office - producing, producing but when you think how little work really matters, how little art makes real sense, its incredible. All the really important artists of this century can really change the way society thinks, Duchamp did it, Malevich did it, Rothko, Klein, Pollock - certain key points and then the rest, you have thousands of people following their work."* (*Extract from an interview with Katy Deepwell, 1997)

Copies of the works of Marina Abramovic can be purchased and rented for exhibition at EAI, Montevideo.


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