Marina Abramović at the Royal Academy of Arts

Marina Abramović’s retrospective exhibition, scheduled from 23 September 2023 to 1 January 2024 at the Main Galleries in Burlington House, revisits pivotal moments in her groundbreaking career.

In her early work, specifically in 1974’s Rhythm 0, Abramović orchestrated a daring performance at Studio Morra in Naples. Placing 72 objects on a table, including lipstick, scissors, feathers, a rose, a bullet, and a gun, she stood motionless for six hours, permitting visitors to interact with the items as they pleased. The audience’s actions ranged from graffiting her body with lipstick to placing a loaded gun in her hand and aiming it at her head.

This exhibition meticulously recreates iconic works like Rhythm 0, The Artist is Present, and Balkan Baroque using videos and installations, developed in close collaboration with Abramović herself. The immersive experience delves into the profound impact and intimacy of Abramović’s live performances, allowing viewers to witness the evolution of her art.

Highlighting the influence of Abramović’s collaborations, the exhibition features the next generation of performance artists, trained in the Marina Abramović Method, reperforming four notable works. Notably, Abramović’s 12-year collaboration with her then-partner Ulay, which produced groundbreaking works such as Rest Energy and The Lovers, is explored. Their performances fused male and female duality into an entity called ‘That Self,’ showcasing trust and vulnerability.

Spirituality plays a significant role in Abramović’s work, influenced by her early years with her devoutly Christian grandmother. Works like Four Crosses incorporate Slavic religious iconography, while The Current explores the power of energy from nature through a meditative performance with crystals under stormy skies.

Marina Abramović Hon RA, an art world icon and performance art pioneer, has continuously pushed the boundaries of her body and mind for over 50 years. Her enduring exploration of physical and mental endurance, as seen in Rhythm 0 and The House with the Ocean View, has earned her global acclaim.

This major exhibition invites visitors to relive key moments from Abramović’s career, employing sculpture, video, installation, and live performance. Iconic works, including The Artist is Present, will be restaged through archive footage, while others will be reperformed by the next generation of artists trained in the Marina Abramović method. The dynamic nature of live performance art ensures that each visit to the exhibition offers a unique experience, with different works being reperformed throughout its run.

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