Marina Abramovic on art, performance, time and nothingness

Thursday 11 September 2014, 4.22am | VIDEO NOW ONLINE

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‘The hardest thing is to do something which is close to nothing.’ – Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović is the most celebrated performance artist in the world. Over a career spanning four decades she has pioneered performance as an art form and accumulated a devoted following that includes Jay-Z and Lady Gaga.

Using her body as both subject and object, Abramović explores notions of nothingness and time, and draws in the audience as part of her performance. At her 2010 exhibition, ‘The Artist is Present’, at New York’s MOMA visitors were invited to sit silently opposite her and gaze into her eyes for an unspecified amount of time. Every day people broke down in tears.

In 2014 Abramović was in London, appearing at the Serpentine Gallery in an acclaimed exhibition, ‘512 Hours’, which featured only herself, the empty gallery, a few props, and the audience who both literally and metaphorically left their baggage at the gate: bags, phones, iPads etc were left in lockers before entry. Warned only to expect the unexpected, visitors were invited to give testimony to their experiences on video, and many spoke of their overwhelming sense of presentness and gratitude.

After the exhibition closed, Abramović came to our stage to discuss her recent experience in London and why, rejecting the materiality and glitz of so much contemporary art, she believes that in the 21st century art will be made not out of objects but out of energy.

Praise for Marina Abramović

‘Abramović doesn’t speak the pretentiously illiterate garbage that has poisoned the discourse of the art world for decades. She is direct, earthy, witty and self-deprecating. She laughs a lot, and she tells you exactly what she is doing and exactly why she is doing it.’

– Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times

‘Marina Abramović is the Picasso of our day’

– Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor


Marina AbramovićMarina Abramović

Belgrade-born artist who has pioneered the use of performance as a visual art form. She has presented her work with performances, sound, photography, video and sculpture in solo exhibitions at major institutions in the U.S. and Europe.



Will GompertzWill Gompertz

BBC Arts editor and former director at the Tate Gallery.