Marina Abramović Celebrates 50 Years of Artistic Prowess

Marina Abramović is the first female artist to present a major solo exhibition in the Royal Academy of Arts’ Main Galleries in London.

Marina Abramović hosts her major solo exhibition in the Main Galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts, London from September 23, 2023 until January 1, 2024. The notable luminary in the art world is the first female to do so. She is renowned for her groundbreaking live performances over the last 50 years. Moreover, Abramović is known for challenging conventions and stretching the limits of performance arts. Additionally, she is famed for having endured extreme fatigue, torment, and even the threat of death during her performances.

Marina Abramović in Stockholm, 2017 / Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Marina Abramović in Stockholm, 2017 / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Early Endeavors: The Early 70s

Abramovič began her work in Belgrade in the early 1970s, transforming live performances into a visual art form. She birthed her most compelling work during this period, such as Rhythm (0) and Rhythm (5). One of the most memorable performances was Rhythm (0), showcased in 1974. During this performance, Abramović welcomed the audience to interact with her as freely as they wished. This invitation gained fame when Abramovič found herself at gunpoint, a loaded gun pointed at her head. Another noteworthy performance was Rhythm (5), also in 1974. Abramovic’s performance entailed laying down in the middle of a flaming five-point star, until she nearly lost consciousness. These performances blend ideas with the physical realm, as well as strength with compassion, and submissiveness with risk. 

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Marina Abramovic's show opens in Royal Academy of Arts London on September 23, 2023
Marina Abramovic is the first female artist to host an exhibition in the Main Galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts London / Image via Instagram video @royalacademyarts

Performance Arts as Self-Discovery

According to the Royal Academy of Arts website: “They pushed the boundaries of self-discovery, both of herself and her audience. They also marked her first engagements with time, stillness, energy, pain, and the resulting heightened consciousness generated by long durational performance.” 

Furthermore, the website also says: “The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring her physical and mental limits in works that ritualise the simple actions of everyday life, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation.”

Marina Abramovic's show runs from September 23, 2023 until January 1, 2023 in Royal Academy of Arts London
Marina Abramovic’s show runs from September 23, 2023 until January 1, 2023 in Royal Academy of Arts London / Image via Instagram video @royalacademyarts

Abramović’s Evolution

Abramović’s performances evolved from collaborations to solo works. From 1975 to 1988, she worked with the German artist Ulay and they performed together on concepts of duality. By 1989 she embarked again in solo performances and in 2010 she began her work titled “The Artist is Present.” In this performance, Abramovic sat in continuous stillness for eight hours minimum daily spanning a period of three months. The artist connected silently with hundreds of unfamiliar faces by meeting their gazes individually. This was done without exchanging a single word with each stranger she encountered. The artist has also taken part in international exhibitions like the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1997 as well as Documenta VI, VII and IX, in Kassel, Germany in 1977, 1982, and 1992 respectively. 

Guests pass between two nude models to enter the exhibition. There is an alternate entrance for those who are not comfortable with this. / Image via Instagram video @royalacademyarts

Acceptance Into The Institutional Museum World

The website states, “Abramović was one of the first performance artists to become formally accepted by the institutional museum world with major solo shows taking place throughout Europe and the US over a period of more than 25 years.” “The Cleaner” was Abramovič’s first European retrospective that was presented in 2017 by Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Other presentations followed in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, Denmark, Henie Onstad, Sanvika, Norway in 2017. Furthermore, a presentation took place in Bundeskunstalle, Bonn, Germany in 2018. In addition, presentations were showcased in the Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun in 2019. This was followed by another in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, Serbia in 2019.

In 2020, the “7 Deaths of Maria Callas” is Abramović’s operatic performance that was launched in Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Germany. This toured to Paris, France at Palais Garnier as well as the Greek National Opera in Athens, Greece the following year in 2021.

Abramović has since established the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) “to support the future exploration and promotion of performance art.”

The 2023 Exhibition 

The Royal Academy of Arts, London now presents Abramović’s major exhibition through various media. The artist’s work is presented through sculpture, video, installation, as well as performance. There will be a re-staging of her work, “The Artist is Present” archive footage.  Next generation performance artists trained in the Marina Abramović method will also present re-performances. Moreover, the exhibition will also feature live performances of “Imponderabilia,” “Nude with Skeleton,” “Luminosity,” and “The House with the Ocean View.” Each visit to the exhibition will be unique because various works will be reperformed throughout the exhibition run.

Visit the Royal Academy of Arts London website or Marina Abramović Institute Instagram for more information. You can also purchase your tickets here.

Website featured photo via Wikipedia Commons. Facebook banner photo via Instagram video @royalacademyarts.

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