Marina Abramović (1946) was born in Belgrade in Serbia, where she attended the Academy of Fine Arts. She currently lives and works in New York City.
Abramović is celebrated as a pioneer within the art form performance. She uses her own body as a tool in her performances and is constantly breaking into new grounds both mentally and physically while exploring the limitations of the body, as well as its potential as a medium of spirituality. Her performances are a series of experiments aimed at defining limits, both of her control over her own body, but also of an audience’s relationship with her as a performer. The performances also extend to defining and explore the codes that govern society as a whole, and how we as human beings limit our spiritual nature.
Following the 1950’s Fluxus artists, Abramović is of the generation of artists of the early 70s who chose performance as a means of expression. Her earliest performances were documented only by black-and-white photographs and descriptive texts, which she published as an edition years later choosing the most iconic images to represent the essence of her actions.
Since 1976 she has utilized video to capture the temporal nature of her art. Cleaning the Mirror #I from the same year is composed of five stacked monitors playing videos of a haunting performance, in which Abramović scrubs a grime-covered human skeleton on her lap. In addition, she works within different forms of photography and sculpture.
The viewer is an active part of Abramović’ pieces, a process that often leads to deep emotional impressions for both spectator and artist. By pursuing the point at which a viewer reaches its limit of endurance in witnessing pain or danger, she increases the observer’s sense of the moment.
This tension is at the heart of her early series of performances known as Rhythms (1973–74). In 1975 Abramović met Ulay, who shared her artistic concerns. Their performances together explored the limitations of power and reliance on the three-sided relationship between each other and the audience. Their last work together, The Great Wall Walk (1988), entailed each walking 2,000 km along the Great Wall of China, starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle.
The last few years Abramović’ artistic career shows how she continues to develop as an artist, creating new pieces that show more of the spiritual nature of human beings. In 2005 she held a series of performances entitled Seven Easy Pieces at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and in 2010 she was the subject of a retrospective at the in New York called The Artist is Present. A major retrospective exhibition was also presented by the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, Russia in 2011.
August 25, 2014, she finished the work 512 Hours, a performance which was developed and arranged for The Serpentine Gallery in London. Creating the simplest of environments in the Gallery spaces, Abramović’ only materials were herself, the audience and a selection of props. This was the first original performance showed in Great Britain.
Abramović is currently in a process of developing the Marina Abramović Institute in New York, a performance education center devoted to the production, presentation, and preservation of long durational work.