Lessons in Abramović

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Lessons in Abramović

I'm not sure what Marina Abramović is teaching but there's a lot of people participating. In her recent "how to do performance" workshop at PS1 Abramović is quoted, instructing her acolytes:

Stop what you’re doing, she might implore before letting you read on. Stand up.

Put your hands together and lift your arms. Inhale into your ribcage. Focus on your breathing.


Rub your hands together. Feel the heat and energy created; massage it onto the top of your head. Across your forehead. Over your eyes. Blink quickly. Exhale. Massage your ears. Massage your nose. Massage your mouth.

Stick your tongue out and say, Ahhh.

Hands together. Tap your chest lightly. Rub the area around your heart. Grab a partner. Exchange shoulder massages. Now shake the energy out of your body.

Shake hard.

Balance. Close your eyes. Relax your body. Soften your face, your eyes, your mouth. Lean forward and touch your toes. Hum. Open your eyes.

Turn back to your partner. Gaze at him. Don’t talk. Try not to blink. Do this for 10 minutes. – (via Hyperallergic)

(photo. Charles Roussel via Hyperallergic)

I know performance artists who have a complicated relationship with Abromvich, admiring her unique and authentic feats of endurance (and grudgingly, her vision), simultaneously repulsed by her self-aggrandizing grandiosity. Isn't this pretty much every big name artist in the art world? Hirst, Schnable, Koons, to name a few. I actually can't seem to name a woman who I'd put into that category, and for that I think it an honor to place Abramović right in there. Finally an over inflated female artist.

I'm a fan for a lot of reasons, one being if you are going to be hyper inflated you better be able to pull it off. And she does. To me this speaks to a kind of autheticity to the perfomative craft. Abramović is writing her own rules, but they are rules she's lived by, as anyone whose seen her work live may attest to. Had not it been for the spectical of watching her watch humanity for minutes, hours, days, and months on end, in "The Artist is Prestent" at MoMa in 2010, most of us would have thought she just did parlor tricks.

(photo. PS1)

No, this is the real deal.

The Abramović method, however is a kind of new-agey Buddhism meets Est/Fourm-like relational aesthetic that I'm quite sure is catharitc. If that's the workshop, can't imagine what the Abramović museum will entail.

Comments [1]

Marcie Bianco's picture

I read about this the other

I read about this the other day -- it was difficult for me to distinguish the pretense from the authentic idea behind "performance" -- but maybe that's a false dichotomy for me to use....