To the many milestones of her 55-year career, Marina Abramović (1946) now adds being the first woman to exhibit solo at the Royal Academy in London, where she stars in a striking exhibition that documents her impressive inner strength and capacity for human connection: Visitors who come to it must squeeze between a naked man and a woman located at the entrance door facing each other at a very short distance.
The Serbian artist participated this Tuesday in the press presentation of Marina Abramović, a detailed compilation of her most notable works, which will open to the public from September 23 to January 1, 2024.
Dressed in her usual black, the creator who popularized the art of performance has explained that she feels like "a miracle" that the exhibition is finally opening, since it was postponed due to the pandemic and a serious aneurysm she suffered last May.
This illness, which, she said, had her on the verge of death, prevented her from planning a personal intervention in this exhibition, where her old pieces facing the public are reincarnated by young artists trained at her Marina Abramović Institute in the United States.
The artist, who in 2010 moved with The Artist is Present at the MoMA in New York, where thousands of people sat in front of her in silence forging intimate channels of communication, did not rule out, however, carrying out an intervention in the coming weeks. spontaneous" in the courtyard of the Royal Academy.
The emotional video faces of those who participated in that work at the American museum open the exhibition in London, which also includes Rhythm 0, when in 1974 she remained still for eight hours while spectators used her body as an object, harassing it or caring for it with 72 gadgets, such as knives or bandages, spread out on a table.
Images from Rhythm 2, in which he consumed pills for catatonia and schizophrenia in front of the audience, are exhibited alongside The Hero (2001), dedicated to his late father, and other works framed in his childhood in the former Yugoslavia.
The section dedicated to the Limits of the body collects his most physical performances, which includes several with his ex-partner Ulay, who died of cancer in 2020, including The Lovers, The Great Wall Walk (1988), in which they both walked for 90 days from opposite origins along the Great Wall of China to meet momentarily before parting forever.
Several times a day, a group of artists will reproduce Abramović's four most transcendent installations, such as Imponderabilia (1977), in which she and Ulay, naked, stood in a doorway where people passed.
In Nude with Skeleton (2002) a naked woman lies under a skeleton, in recognition of the ephemerality of this type of art and of life itself, and in Luminosity (1997) another appears seated, also without clothes, in a kind of easel hanging on a wall.
The most demanding performance will be that of House with the Ocean View, in which three artists will emulate on different dates the experience of the Serbian creator, who in 2002 spent twelve days in three small open and interconnected spaces in the Sean Kelly gallery in New York , without talking or eating, just drinking water and ritualizing his daily life.
Abramović says her decades of experience pushing her body and mind to the limit – which she explains taught her to reach deep meditative and spiritual states – is what saved her when she fell ill in May.
"Physical pain is easy, it is emotional pain that is difficult for me," he declared today. "Suffering is like a door to understanding human beings," she added.
Asked if her work is part of that of a generation of women who, like the British Tracy Emin, create from their personal experience or their gender, Marina Abramović responded negatively.
"I am not a feminist, I flee from isms. The body became my medium but I believe that art should not have gender. It only matters if it is good or bad. I am a woman, my body is feminine, but my art has no gender" , he stated.
Abramović pointed out, however, that "it doesn't seem fair" that she, and not Emin, is the first woman to exhibit in a big way at the Royal Academy, of which she has been an honorary member since 2011.