Marina Abramović: art and life, life and art of each one of us

“Portrait with golden mask”. 2009 

 Marinaby Beatrice Brandini

The first major Italian retrospective dedicated to Marina Abramović, one of the most famous, iconic and controversial personalities of contemporary art, has just ended a few days ago.

Marina Abramović THE CLEANER

The exhibition entitled “The Cleaner” is a reflection of the artist on her life, according to which, as in a home, only what is needed is kept and the past, memory and destiny are cleaned. A sort of testament, an opportunity to retrace forty years of activity, in which Marina Abramović has given herself emotionally and totally, giving us strong emotions. Exhibition organized by the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation and curated by Arturo Galansino.


The Citroên van in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi. This means of transport and life was used by Marina and her partner Ulay (German artist and photographer) to travel around Europe.

“The Kitchen”. 2009

“Stromboli III”. 2002


“The Artist is Present” has become a classic of Performance Art. During the three months of the exhibition at the MoMA in New York, in 2010, Marina Abramović looked into the eyes of every spectator who decided to sit in front of her. “The most radical performance of my life”, during which she sat for seven hours a day, without drinking, eating or going to the toilet. “Staring into the eyes full of pain of visitors”.

Marina Abramović revolutionized the idea of performance by testing one’s body, its limits and its expressive potential.

It was the first time that Palazzo Strozzi dedicated an exhibition to a woman, confirming its contemporaneity and revolutionary ambition, if one considers that the city, Florence, struggles to shake off the Renaissance identity that has always characterized it.

The Italian exhibition tells the long career of this indomitable artist, it is not accidental that Italy has been chosen, a country that has an important meaning in her private and artistic biography.

Ulay and Marina Abramović “REST ENERGY” 1980. A project in which the two artists claimed to have been transformed into a single organism: the performances were unforgettable and hypnotic, at the limit of physical and psychological endurance. a large bow whose string, complete with an arrow, was held by Ulay: if he had let go the arrow would have pierced Marina’s heart. “The performance lasted four minutes and twenty seconds, which seemed like an eternity.” The tension was unbearable ” .


“THE ONION” 1995. The artist eagerly eats a raw onion crying, “looking upwards like a suffering Madonna”.

Count on Us”. 2004 With a skeleton hanging in front of and behind a dark suit, Marina directs a choir of eighty-six children dressed in black as if attending a funeral, singing the anthem to the UN. A sarcastic way to denounce the UN’s lack of humanitarian commitment during the war in Kosovo.

The discovery of the performances induces her to abandon all the other expressive forms, starting to work only with her body, exposing herself to danger and pain. “I have the freedom, as an artist, to do what I want. I have the freedom to make art with dust if I want … The poor little Marina has disappeared, leaving space for the new Marina, the one that can do everything without limits and boundaries “.

Pain as an elevation of itself, making us understand that the greatest is not physical but spiritual.

RHYTHM 5. 1974. The artist lying in the center of a five-pointed star, positioned in the middle of a room that was then set on fire. The room became a prison of fire, Abramović lost consciousness and was saved from that deadly trap.

RHYTHM 0 . 1974

“IMPONDERABILIA” 1977. One of the best-known performances of Marina and her partner Ulay, in which they remained immobile and naked at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art in Bologna as if they were the door jambs. To enter from the very narrow door, inevitably the public would have turned to one side or the other of the two performers (editorial note: the performance was interrupted by the police a few minutes later).



“ART MUST BE BEAUTIFUL” 1975. A female figure who combs is a recurring iconographic subject in art. But Marina turns it into a kind of very violent self-punishment, brushing her hair until it bleeds. “Jugoslavia had bored me with the aesthetic assumption that art must be beautiful. With ART MU BE Beautiful, I wanted to destroy that idea of beauty. In fact, I was convinced that art should be disturbing, ask questions, predict the future … “


Since the seventies Marina Abramović has told, through her body, anger, pain, sexuality, political and social drama. Her performances are “popular” because the viewer recognizes himself in his fears and torments. But they are because they are always very sincere. Abramović is a true and spontaneous artist who has not been afraid to experience the suffering on her body, this means of communication has become her language, the same that binds her to her audience.



Some statements by Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović is much loved, venerated, followed by a crowd of admirers all over the world. When they sold tickets for the press conference, which she too would take part in, the 1,770 available seats were sold out within hours. Her biography has been translated into 21 languages; at the age of 71 she manages to still be very popular, attracting even the attention of the very young (I took my son to the show and was thrilled!).

Marina in fashion by Beatrice Brandini

Marina in fashion by Beatrice Brandini

Marina in fashion by Beatrice Brandini

Belgrade, Amsterdam and New York, three fundamental cities for Abramović’s artistic and life path. The first is her homeland and where she took her first steps in the art world. Amsterdam is the city where she met the German artist Ulay, a great love of her life and a fundamental inspiration and partner in her creative activity. New York city that has adopted she, where it still resides, and which has consecrated her. The last performance of Marina Abromović will probably be GrandMother Of Performance, a work that will only come to light on the day of her funeral. Three coffins will be sent to the three cities mentioned, only one will contain her body, but no one will know which one. The last greeting, a cup of theater between desecration, irony, self-celebration, an elusive artist despite being pushed to the limit and laid bare for life.

Good life to everyone!


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