Marina Abramović to do nothing this summer

The performance artist will be the only exhibit at London's Serpentine gallery from 11 June until 25 August
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Marina Abramovic, portrait with Scorpion, (open eyes) 2005
Marina Abramovic, portrait with Scorpion, (open eyes) 2005

No one could describe Marina Abramović as anything less than prolific. Since her headline performance and retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 2010, she has befriended Lady Gaga, appeared in a Jay Z video, and has worked with Rem Koolhaas on her own institute in upstate New York.

Yet this summer's residency at London's Serpentine Gallery is pretty light on the kinds of things traditionally referred to in art circles as 'work'. A few days ago the 67-year-old artist explained to the BBC's Will Gompertz that her 65 day exhibition will consist of "Nothing. There's not any work, and the public is my live material." She adds, "it's the most radical thing I can do."

 

Marina Abramovic and David Bailey, London 2014
Marina Abramovic and David Bailey, London 2014

Longtime collaborator, Phaidon author and the Serpentine's Director of International Projects, Hans Ulrich Obrist, says this new piece is an extension of her MoMA performance, the Artist is Present, wherein Marina invited New York gallery-goers to take turns sitting opposite her and staring into her eyes. Yet this new piece lacks even these basic details. Instead, Amrabović says she will rely on the audience's impressions and interactions to provide the art.

 

Marina Abramovic, Nude with a Skeleton (1996)
Marina Abramovic, Nude with a Skeleton (1996)

As the Serpentine puts it, "the artist will, for the first time, commit to an unscripted and improvised presence in the space of the Gallery." What's more, no one will be allowed into the gallery with their phone handset, and the audience "will not be connected to any other reality other than the show," as Obrist puts it.

 

Marina Abramovic, the Artist is Present, 2010
Marina Abramovic, the Artist is Present, 2010

Marina is, quite understandably, panicking about how "the cynical British public is going to take this thing." Yet given her reputation and existing body of work, our material obsessions, and the constant digital mediation in our everyday lives, this sparse, simple, screen-free show could prove to be something of a blockbuster.

Read the Serpentine listing here; listen to the BBC interview, wherein Maria also talks about her recent shoot with David Bailey, here; and for more on Abramović, consider our book, the definitive monograph on an artist who has truly pioneered the use of the human body in art.


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