An artist should not make himself into an idol-
Marina Abramović is everywhere lately.
A marathon performance at MoMa, another retrospective in Moscow, on the cover of POP magazine, hosting a star studded event at Jeffrey Deitch’s MOCA in LA and an exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery slated for 2012, the HBO documentary “The Artist is Present” just screened at Sundance. An ever growing list of projects that is taking her across continents…
Exclusive long form of interview first published in POP magazine FW2012
Marina Abramović with her "Mini Me". Photography by René Habermacher for POP magazine
Marina Abramović is everywhere lately. She has emerged from what was considered an alternative section of contemporary art, Performance Art, to finally occupy an untouchable position in the Pantheon of Pop.
A marathon performance at the MoMa, another retrospective in Moscow scheduled, and an exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery slated for 2012, day and night filming of an HBO documentary and an ever growing list of projects. Marina is known for her works in which she tests and pushes her emotional,mental and physical strength, but her schedule takes its toll: Marina is exhausted.
Broad recognition has come comparably late for Abramović, who was often categorized as some sort of Exotic Serbian Vixen. Nevertheless, she has shaped a significant slice of art history like no other.
Today, less considered for her public sexual identity, and more appreciated for her timelessness and her bravery, one could unarguably call Marina “the diva of contemporary art”, were she not so grounded.
Freja Beha Erichsen with her "Mini Me". A collaboration by Marina Abramović for POP magazine Photography by René Habermacher
Our conversation takes place just after Marina’s return to New York from Manchester, England where she spent six weeks collaborating with Robert Wilson on a new biography, “The Life and Death of Marina Abramović”. The play was staged with accompanied music written and conducted by Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) and narrated by a ferocious Willem Dafoe.
The audience witnessed him meticulously rummaging through the details of her life chronologically. Marina has been clear about her lack of appreciation for theatre as a concept and this play marks a sharp departure from her concept of herself as a performance artist.
She participates in what she used to essentially despise: “To be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre. Theatre is fake: there is a black box, you pay for a ticket, and you sit in the dark and see somebody playing somebody else’s life. The knife is not real, the blood is not real, and the emotions are not real. Performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real. It’s a very different concept. It’s about true reality.”
Death mask of Marina Abramović. Photography by René Habermacher
René Habermacher: With this piece you staged something that you call artificial theatre. It lacks the realness that is central to your work. How was this experience for you?
Marina Abramović: I am his material. I completely gave all the control to Bob (Robert Wilson). That is the only way to really be material for someone else, which is very interesting, because its just absolutely the opposite of what I do. This is first time that i have this really radical approach with Bob – he absolutely refused anything to do with performance. This was an amazing experience for me and very difficult, because his approach to rehearsal is like mine to performance, – but yet it’s just rehearsal! Just be there for hours and hours in order for him to fix the light. I lose my reason, I need the public, I need another kind of dialogue. This was a huge discipline not to kill him!
RH: How did this project with Bob come together? (more…)00
Life and Death of Marina Abramovic – vii-
“An artist should avoid going to the studio every day”
Last night was the last performance in Manchester.
Everyone in the cast and crew will soon be returning to their “normal” life, wherever it may be around the globe, to their city, their apartment, their studio.
Over the last week, seven exhausting nights, the play is ending.
It has been seen by Viktor & Rolf, Riccardo Tisci, the director of the MoMA and many others.
But fear not, it will return, soon, somewhere else around the globe.
life and death of marina abramovic – vi-
Marina's 6th commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.
This is not a dick.
It’s a strap-on.
It’s strapped on a man, Andy.
In the play, Andy masturbates while wearing a mask of Marina, as she flirts with him.
Tonight is the last night to see this, as it is the last night the play is performed in Manchester.
LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – V-
“An artist should stay for long periods of time at exploding volcanoes”
Marina's fifth commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.
This is the wig of Willem Dafoe when it’s not on Willem Dafoe.
It’s in the make up room.
In the play, Willem appears as a demonic, cartoonish narrator, meticulously going through Marina’s life chronologically, year after year.
LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – IV-
“Enemies are very important”
Marina's fourth commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.
After an energetic premiere, the play keeps running until the 16th.
One of the cast we havent yet introduced is Daisy, the boa constrictor.
Like bruno’s predecessor was stiffy, Daisy replaced the rolled-up blanket used for rehearsals.
She naps in her well temperated box towards the minutes of spotlight.
It was difficult to find a hotel for her, says David the “snake-man”, so many houses had refused them shelter…
Daisy and David. Photo by René Habermacher.
LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC : TODAY IS PREMIERE-
LA MAIN DANS LE SAC for Vogue Italia-
Stimuleyees and Stimuleyettes, at last, here it is – the Vogue Italia film commission for bag designers Jamin Puech… La Main Dans Le Sac / “Caught Red-Handed”When Vogue Italia asked us to make a film for their A Short Film With section with bag designers Jamin Puech, we were at first a bit puzzled. Up to that point, all the films in the section were built around designers preparing their fashion shows, but Jamin Puech didn’t have fashion shows.So we drew inspiration from the opening scenes of Hitchcock’s MARNIE – we never see the face of Tippi Hedren who plays a con artist opposite Sean Connery. We only see a silhouette do questionable things with different bags, purses and luggages… Together with stylist Michaela Dosamantes we built graphic and cinematic scenes around each bag, building up to the moment she gets caught.
Bag by Jamin Puech, glove by George Morand, suit by Max Mara, necklace and ring by Karry' O, bracelet by Andra Neen. Photo by René Habermacher.The title is a French expression meaning “the hand in the bag” which means that you’ve been caught in the act.It was too perfect a title.
Left: jacket and trousers by Carven, blouse by Equipment, sunglasses by Prada, necklace by Andra Neen. Right: coat and belt by Dries Van Noten, gloves by George Moran, necklace by Andra Neen. Photos by René Habermacher.Though we loved the Hitchcock soundtracks, and used it to set the mood while editing, we wanted something more contemporary and original for the sound, so we asked our past collaborator Lori Schonberg and his colleague Shane Aspegren of the Berg Sans Nipple to write something for us.
Top + pants by Giambatista Valli, Fendi belt, Pierre Hardy shoes and Karry’O earrings.
Photo by René Habermacher.Of course the film also benefits from the setting : caviar and seafood restaurant Prunier, by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where you can treat yourself to “all that comes from the sea”, including delicacies such as the “Christian Dior” oeuf en gelée with Tradition caviar. Designed in 1925, and owned by Pierre Bergé since 2000, the restaurant is an Art Déco jewel, featuring the work of the best artists of the time, such as I.M. Cassandre, but also of modern artists like Bob Wilson, whose installation sits at the bar.
La Main Dans Le Sac by Antoine Asseraf & René Habermacher – more info, full fashion and production credits: www.maindanssac.comBuild with Erosion, by The Berg Sans Nipple.Special performance at Musée du Quai Branly on June 12, 2011.