At the age of thirty, which was in 1976, Marina Abramović left her country (SFRY) and her city, Belgrade and went into the world and conquer it. With her art, her upbringing and her good mood. She is today the queen of performance and modern art. Almost everything is known about her, she has told a lot of things herself and many others have said about her.
I met her at a private party, where all the guests at the dinner approached her and asked for an autograph; the “careful” ones wanted to take a selfie, the majority offered her to take a look at their catalogs. To me, it seemed like violating. Not to her. She was waiting for them with a smile and fulfilling all kinds of wishes. I didn’t want to approach her. Better to say, I was embarrassed, and somewhere I enjoyed that scene where some fine world wants to “touch” Marina.
Then I got a little nervous in the style of “is it possible that I will be the only one who didn’t approach her”. I took a new sip of wine, and then Marina approached me: “And what do you do?” This is that old saying, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” She was looking at me thoughtfully and we chatted for about 10 minutes until she was again dragged for giving autographs, selfies, and looking at catalogs. Before that, I had been to her class once and remained fascinated by the way she holds the attention and ignites the imagination, even in such a separated place. Marina can listen and watch, though it is mostly across the stage.
I don’t look in the rearview mirror
And how did this fascinating woman started? I was interested in everything. I dug out the forgotten book “Early Works, Belgrade Period” by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Vojvodina.
“In one of the first installations The Tree, in 1971, the artist used speakers from which a bird’s amplified chirping was emitted and mounted on a tree in front of the SKC Gallery (The Student Cultural Centre), multiplying and intensifying one of the sounds of nature in an ‘artificial’ way. A similar neo-avant-garde potentiation of the complex relationships between works of art, nature, and culture is actualized in the ambient installation of the Box, which took place in the same year.
These were two cardboard boxes for packaging inside the SKC Gallery, from which the sounds of nature recorded on tape were also heard: the bleating sound of sheep, the noise of the sea and the wind, the shot. The manipulation of sound in these early works evokes reminiscences of John Cage’s experiments with musical minimalism, in which the artist takes on the pre-existing sound or silence and broadcasts them without any intervention.
But while he used that sound the way musical instruments are used, in the works of Marina Abramović mechanically reproducing and replacing visual material with auditory ones, classical artistic questions about nature as a model and its interpretation in the work of art were questioned, as well as provoked current assumptions about inspiration, technique and performance in landscape art. “
About her beginnings, about that “prelude period,” Marina spoke for the “Time” magazine at the end of the last century: “Regarding my work in Yugoslavia, this is what we call the “cornerstone”. My start was very important, of course with the group of people I worked with, it was essential. At that time, our work was so against all normal norms in Belgrade. This whole work was very important for my later development and in every catalog, I mention that beginning as a very important moment in my life. “
Now Marina, a woman whose biography is all over the world, is back in her field after more than four decades. Marina is looking forward to reopening the doors of a new city with an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. At the same time, she will reopen a new self. It is not known who is more anxious, the audience or the artist who is again present in her town.
After 43 (I must write this in letters forty-three) you are again presenting in your hometown.
On that occasion, she tells me: “I never like to look back – to the past. For me, the only thing that matters is the present. I’m better today than I’ve ever been in my life. I have the wisdom I didn’t have when I was young, and it’s priceless. “
Workshop as a gift
And when she looks in the rearview mirror, she remembers reading Dostoevsky and Marina Tsvetaeva, scenes of her walking through the snow in Belgrade late at night and long conversations The Writers’ Club with friends.
Thanks to her job, she can discover a new version of herself from time to time. Once it was a Marina where the pain was of no importance to her. At the moment, popular Marina with an important sense of humor. Not only jokes on her account but the world around her; the ability to know the “whole picture” of things.
We once talked about curators, how much they affect her life.
“My relationship with curators is professional. There is a big difference between different artists as well as between different curators. There are great curators and those who just do their job. I’ve been lucky in my life because I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great curators, but it’s hard to find them today. “
I was curious about the ambition she is coming now and what to expect.
“I finally got the invitation to do an exhibition in Belgrade and I accepted it. I also want to give something to young performing artists of this country who will have the opportunity to participate in the Method Abramović workshop. This workshop was not intended by the curator and it is my gift to a generation of young artists. “
At one point in her memoirs, “Walk Through Walls” (Samizdat B92 published here), he says that a person’s journey is rejuvenated because he does not have time to grow old.
“I think being young means being curious and having a child’s perspective again. I do not place myself in any lifestyle. I am the perfect example of a modern nomad. My house is my body. “
We also discussed extremely intimate topics, how she made a conscious decision not to have children “because it would interfere with her artistic career.”
“I never wanted to have children because I have only one energy in my body and I use it to create my works. That’s all, there’s nothing to add. “