An artist should not make himself into an idol

February 5th, 2012

Marina Abramović is everywhere lately.

A marathon performance at MoMa, another retrospective in Moscow, on the cover of POP magazine, hosting a star studded event at Jeffrey Deitch’s MOCA in LA and an exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery slated for 2012, the HBO documentary “The Artist is Present” just screened at Sundance. An ever growing list of projects that is taking her across continents…

Exclusive long form of interview first published in POP magazine FW2012
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Marina Abramović with her "Mini Me". Photography by René Habermacher for POP magazine

Marina Abramović is everywhere lately. She has emerged from what was considered an alternative section of contemporary art, Performance Art, to finally occupy an untouchable position in the Pantheon of Pop.
A marathon performance at the MoMa, another retrospective in Moscow scheduled, and an exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery slated for 2012, day and night filming of an HBO documentary and an ever growing list of projects. Marina is known for her works in which she tests and pushes her emotional,mental and physical strength, but her schedule takes its toll: Marina is exhausted.
Broad recognition has come comparably late for Abramović, who was often categorized as some sort of Exotic Serbian Vixen. Nevertheless, she has shaped a significant slice of art history like no other.
Today, less considered for her public sexual identity, and more appreciated for her timelessness and her bravery, one could unarguably call Marina “the diva of contemporary art”, were she not so grounded.

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Freja Beha Erichsen with her "Mini Me". A collaboration by Marina Abramović for POP magazine
Photography by René Habermacher

Our conversation takes place just after Marina’s return to New York from Manchester, England where she spent six weeks collaborating with Robert Wilson on a new biography, “The Life and Death of Marina Abramović”. The play was staged with accompanied music written and conducted by Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) and narrated by a ferocious Willem Dafoe.
The audience witnessed him meticulously rummaging through the details of her life chronologically. Marina has been clear about her lack of appreciation for theatre as a concept and this play marks a sharp departure from her concept of herself as a performance artist.

She participates in what she used to essentially despise: “To be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre. Theatre is fake: there is a black box, you pay for a ticket, and you sit in the dark and see somebody playing somebody else’s life. The knife is not real, the blood is not real, and the emotions are not real. Performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real. It’s a very different concept. It’s about true reality.”

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Death mask of Marina Abramović. Photography by René Habermacher

René Habermacher: With this piece you staged something that you call artificial theatre. It lacks the realness that is central to your work. How was this experience for you?

Marina Abramović: I am his material. I completely gave all the control to Bob (Robert Wilson). That is the only way to really be material for someone else, which is very interesting, because its just absolutely the opposite of what I do. This is first time that i have this really radical approach with Bob – he absolutely refused anything to do with performance. This was an amazing experience for me and very difficult, because his approach to rehearsal is like mine to performance, – but yet it’s just rehearsal! Just be there for hours and hours in order for him to fix the light. I lose my reason, I need the public, I need another kind of dialogue. This was a huge discipline not to kill him!

RH: How did this project with Bob come together? Read the rest of this entry »


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Life and Death of Marina Abramovic – vii

July 17th, 2011

“An artist should avoid going to the studio every day”

an artist should avoid going to the studio every day - marina abramovic

STUDIO
Last night was the last performance in Manchester.

Everyone in the cast and crew will soon be returning to their “normal” life, wherever it may be around the globe, to their city, their apartment, their studio.

Over the last week, seven exhausting nights, the play is ending.
It has been seen by Viktor & Rolf, Riccardo Tisci, the director of the MoMA and many others.

But fear not, it will return, soon, somewhere else around the globe.


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life and death of marina abramovic – vi

July 16th, 2011

“An artist should be erotic”

an artist should be erotic - marina abramovic

Marina's 6th commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.

DICK
This is not a dick.
It’s a strap-on.
It’s strapped on a man, Andy.

In the play, Andy masturbates while wearing a mask of Marina, as she flirts with him.

Tonight is the last night to see this, as it is the last night the play is performed in Manchester.


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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – V

July 14th, 2011

“An artist should stay for long periods of time at exploding volcanoes”

artists should stay for long periods of time at exploding volcanoes

Marina's fifth commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.

THE WIG
This is the wig of Willem Dafoe when it’s not on Willem Dafoe.
It’s in the make up room.

In the play, Willem appears as a demonic, cartoonish narrator, meticulously going through Marina’s life chronologically, year after year.


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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – IV

July 13th, 2011

“Enemies are very important”

enemies are very important

Marina's fourth commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.

THE SNAKE
After an energetic premiere, the play keeps running until the 16th.

One of the cast we havent yet introduced is Daisy, the boa constrictor.
Like bruno’s predecessor was stiffy, Daisy replaced the rolled-up blanket used for rehearsals.

She naps in her well temperated box towards the minutes of spotlight.
It was difficult to find a hotel for her, says David the “snake-man”, so many houses had refused them shelter…

Daisy and David

Daisy and David. Photo by René Habermacher.

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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC : TODAY IS PREMIERE

July 9th, 2011

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Marina Abramović backstage in the make up. Photography by René Habermacher

GOOD LUCK FOR THE PREMIERE EVERYONE!


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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – LAST REHEARSAL

July 8th, 2011

Marina, Willem, Bob, Carlos and the Serbian girls.
Only a few more hours left to marinate, before the feast.

LADOMA_wilson_194

The stage doors. The note is to be taken very serious. Photography by René Habermacher.

Today Marina had her shaman coming from Santa Fe, New Mexico, in order to clear any bad spirits in the theater.

Magick is in the air, the mood has eased the morning following the preview.
Some eruptions excluded.

Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe noting remarks on his text. Photography by René Habermacher.

Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

Preparations in the Make up rooms. Photography by René Habermacher.

After all, the puzzle of endless rehearsed scenes makes sense now, its emotional power in effect to captivate both spectators and cast.

As the premiere nears, the ticket office and press department whirl faster.

During breaks, we hear big names to will attend.
They have to be seated the right way. Tickets are limited and getting sparse.

Carlos Soto

Carlos Soto. Photography by René Habermacher

Marina Abramovic + Antony Hegarty

Marina Abramović and Antony Hegarty. Photography by René Habermacher.

The Serbian girls, that form the chorus with peasant songs, cook and cater everyone with traditional baked beans.

The longer they marinate, the better they are supposed to get. Though the longer you leave the beans to marinate, the higher the risk of having your portion snapped away – perhaps we should put name tags on the glasses in the backstage fridge?

Anyway, it’s all about MARINAting. The effect is, it melts on the tongue….

life and death of Marina Abramovic

Marina riding on her wooden horse Bruno. Bruno is a darling, but not too comfortable... Photography by René Habermacher.

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Svetlana sings the chorus while the soldiers shout parts of Marinas artist's manifesto. Photography by René Habermacher.

Life And Death Of Marina Abramovic
at Manchester International Festival
July 9 – 16, 2011.


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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – III

July 8th, 2011

“An artist should not make themselves into an idol”

Marina's commandment III. Photo by Lynsey Peisinger.

MINI-MARINA
Mini-Marina is a doll that wears Marina’s own, real hair.

It just flew in from New York City.

The costume department is working on dressing Mini-Marina for the premiere…

Life And Death Of Marina Abramovic
at Manchester International Festival
July 9 – 16, 2011.


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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – II

July 7th, 2011

“An artist has to be aware of his own mortality”

AN ARTIST HAS TO BE AWARE OF HIS OWN MORTALITY - MARINA ABRAMOVIC

Marina's Commandment II. Photo by Lynsey Peisinger.

MASK
Its raining in Manchester. Although sometimes not.

The first preview went on stage under the roof of that building where his architect threw himself from his landmark tower to death.
Marina thinks there must be some energy left from this.

At Marina’s funeral, who do you expect to see in the coffin? Marina, obviously. Since we have three people in both of Marina’s funeral scenes, they decided to make everyone wear “Marina masks” so that everyone would look like her.

We call them “Marina Death Masks”. They looked much more morbid before they put makeup on them…


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