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Documenting the performance art of Marina Abramović in pictures

An overview of the performance artist who explores her physical and emotional limits for her art
Seven Easy Pieces: Gina Pane: The Conditioning, First Action of Self-Portrait(s), 1975 (2005)
Performance, 7 hr., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York


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Marina Abramović was one of the first artists to engineer the use of performance as a visual art form, using her body as her primary subject and medium to explore her physical and emotional limits. Abramović's career spans more than 40 years during which time she has made countless performance pieces, early sound-based projects, video works and collaborative performances with Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen).

Abramović's art ranges from the mundane to the dangerous, but always focuses on the body. In Rhythm 0, 72 objects are placed on a table and the audience is encouraged to use these items as they desire on Abramović.

The tense collaborative piece Rest Energy involved the artist and Ulay holding a taut bow and poised arrow: the weight of their bodies put a tension on the bow with the arrow pointed at Marina's heart. Small microphones were attached to their chests recording their increasing number of heartbeats.

Sound has played a part in many of Abramović's performances. In Rhythm 10 she records herself stabbing between the fingers of her left hand, changing the knife every time she cuts herself. When all knives have been used she rewinds the tape recorder and listens to the recording, then repeats the first part of the performance using the knives in the same order, following the same rhythm and cutting in the same places. The mistakes of time past and time present are synchronized in this piece. Finally, she rewinds the second tape recorder and then plays both recordings together listening to the double rhythm created. Abramović's performance-based works have continued to revolutionise visual art and inspire the latest generation of artists, critics and art historians.


Marina Abramovic

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