Thursday, June 17

Marina Abramovic, Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts | Culture

Serbian artist Marina Abramovic (Belgrade, 74 years old) has been awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts. Considered one of the great pioneers of performances, Abramovic began his career in the seventies with the series Rhythm, in which he already showed the keys to his work and the use of his own body as part of the work. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade (1965-1970) and completed his postgraduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (Croatia, 1972). Between 1973 and 1975 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad (a city in northern Serbia).

After moving to Amsterdam in 1976, Abramovic met the German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, stage name Ulay, who passed away last year and with whom he shared part of his career. The objective of those 12 years of collaboration with the artist, who was also his partner, was to nullify the sense of self to shape a unique and individual artistic entity, capable of transcending the limits of the public and the private. The last work as a couple both artistic and sentimental of Ulay and Abramovic, which they carried out in 1988, consisted of walking along the Great Wall of China from opposite ends to join in the center and from there separate their paths with a single word “goodbye ”.

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In 1977, in one of his performances classic, Imponderabilia, it made the viewer pass between two naked bodies. Although, perhaps, his work best known to the general public is the performance in 2010 at MoMA, when the artist sat silently for 716 hours in front of the different spectators who observed her one by one and with whom she could not speak or gesture. At the same time, a large retrospective was being held in the museum, The Artist is Present, in which some of his classic works were “re-enacted”. It was his great challenge to the viewer, to try to question the limits in the art exhibition. Abramovic somehow embodies the image of the total artist and has entered the collective imagination of the 21st century, to the point that rappers like Jay Z have included her in their videos and lyrics.

A radical change

“People think with nostalgia that before performances they were more radical. You cut yourself, you undressed, but now they are a more mental process. So your audience could be 10 people, so hardly anyone actually saw them. Museums today accept performances like video or photography, but it has taken much longer to earn respect. There has been a radical change: when I started they wanted to lock me up in a madhouse because they thought I was crazy, and today they praise me, “he commented in an interview with EL PAÍS in 2015.” At school they called me a giraffe, I hated my nose and got bad notes ”, she recalled on another occasion about her childhood in then Yugoslavia, where she was raised by her grandparents.

Abramovic, in red, during his 'performance' last year at MoMA.
Abramovic, in red, during his ‘performance’ last year at MoMA.SCOTT RUDD

In 1997 he presented the piece Balkan Baroque at the Venice Biennale, for which he received the Golden Lion for the best artist. In 2005 he presented at the Guggenheim in New York Seven Easy Pieces: on seven consecutive nights he recreated the works of pioneering artists of the performance in the sixties and seventies, in addition to two of his own works, Lips of Thomas Y Entering the Other Side (1975 and 2005, respectively).

In 2012 it was released The artist is present, the documentary about the MoMA retrospective, directed by Matthew Akers, which was nominated for best documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards 2013 and received the Audience Award for best documentary at the Berlin Film Festival 2012. From that experience came the idea for create the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), an art center located in Hudson (New York, USA) where all kinds of cultural events, workshops and exhibitions related to the performance and contemporary art. In April 2012, the artist took the show to the Teatro Real in Madrid Life and death of Marina Abramovic, a work in which the stage director Bob Wilson, the actor Willem Dafoe, the transgender singer Antony and the artist collaborated. There is work by Abramovic in the Museo Reina Sofía and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (CAC) in Malaga hosted an exhibition of his work from recent years in 2014.

In 2016 he published his autobiography Walking Through Walls (Demolishing walls) and in 2018 she made her debut as an operatic stage director in the play Pelléas et Mélisande at the Flanders Opera. In 2020 he premiered Seven Deaths of Maria Callas, an operatic montage around the figure of the diva; That same year, the Royal Academy of Arts scheduled a retrospective on the Serbian artist’s work that had to be postponed to 2023 due to the pandemic.

A work by Marina Abramovic exhibited at the Factum Art workshop in Madrid in 2020.
A work by Marina Abramovic exhibited at the Factum Art workshop in Madrid in 2020.INMA FLORES

The jury for this Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– has been chaired by Miguel Zugaza Miranda and made up of José María Cano de Andrés, María de Corral López-Dóriga, Dionisio González Romero, Blanca Gutiérrez Ortiz, Sergio Gutiérrez Sánchez, Lucas Macías Navarro, Ricardo Martí Fluxá, Fernando Masaveu Herrero, Hans Meinke Paege, Helena Pimenta Hernández, José María Pou Serra, Sandra Rotondo Urcola, Benedetta Tagliabue, Patricia Urquiola Hidalgo, Tadanori Yamaguchi, Aarón Zapico Braña and Catalina Luca de Tena and García-Conde , Marchioness of Valle de Tena (secretary). This candidacy has been proposed by María Sheila Cremaschi, director of the HayFestival Segovia (Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, 2020 Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities).

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