MALAGA.- The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga
is presenting the first solo exhibition in ten years in a Spanish museum on Marina Abramović, one of the most important contemporary artists working today. In Marina Abramović: Holding Emptiness, curated by Fernando Francés, the artist invites spectators to interact with her work through their experiences arising from some of the objects on display. In addition, the exhibition also includes photographs and videos dating from the different phases within this Balkan artists career, as well as a group of previously unexhibited drawings. The pioneering figure in performance art, throughout her career Marina Abramović has taken her artistic concerns to the extreme, experimenting with methods, techniques and resources in order to transmit her work to the viewer. TIME magazine recently included the artist in its list of the 100 most influential figures in the world. This exhibition is supported by Festival Málaga. Cine Español and Bang & Olufson Hilera, Malaga.
I am interested in an art that disturbs and breaks the moment of danger; the audience thus has to be looking at that moment and allowing the danger to concentrate. This is the idea, concentrating ourselves on the here and now. This phrase by artist Marina Abramović (born Belgrade, 1946) summarises the principal aim of her artistic activity. The CAC Málaga is now inviting visitors to establish a dialogue with the work of this Balkan artist, the great pioneer of performance art and a key name in international contemporary creation.
For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga: [...] Marina Abramović has been a clear protagonist; the true pioneer who has been able to explore all the different areas of this field, from the interior self to the social self. Abramović is undoubtedly an artist capable of grasping that performance was not a fashion during a specific high point in international art, nor did she conceive of it as a vehicle. Rather, she rapidly understood that it was a way of life and a new way of revealing her existential commitment to her artistic commitment, although the two things may be the same.
The work on display at the CAC Málaga encourages the viewer to participate and to experiment with the sensations that it arouses. Part of Abramovićs activity involves interaction and the flow of energies that arise in the exhibition space.
Marina Abramović: Holding Emptiness presents a survey of the artists entire career, from her outset in the 1970s, with black and white photographs of performances such as Art must be beautiful, Artist must be beautiful (1975/2010), in which she brushed her hair so forcefully that she hurt herself while repeating the title of the work, or Rhythm 10 (1973/2010) in which she stabbed a knife between her fingers, changing it every time she cut herself. The act was repeated various times through the use of a taped recording of the knife blows.
The exhibition also includes the performances that Abramović created in collaboration with her artistic and life partner Ulay. They include Relation in Time (1977/2010), in which the two remained back to back for 17 hours with their hair plaited together, and Anima Mundi: Pietà (1983/2002), a colour photograph in which Abramović holds Ulay in her arms in a reference to an episode from Christs Passion and a key subject in Christian iconography. The two worked closely together between 1975 and 1988, resulting in a series of works that focus on relationships between couples and opposing concepts such as solitude/company, male/female and desires/prohibition.
After their relationship came to an end Abramović reassessed and reformulated her work, this time alone. Following her travels to China, India and Brazil in the late 1980s and 1990s she created the transitory objects, which she defines as a group of works designed to provoke physical or mental experiences in the audience through direct interaction. When the experience is achieved, the objects no longer need to be used. Chair for Human Use with Chair for Spirit Use (1) (2012) is an example of such objects.
Abramovićs solo output focuses on the body and on energy, evident in works such as The Artist is present (2010/2013), based on a performance at the MoMA in which she invited viewers to confront her gaze in one of the museums galleries.
Also on display at the CAC Málaga is a group of thirty, previously unexhibited drawings from three sketchbooks produced during the artists trips to Brazil in the 1990s. Finally, there are videos that record performances undertaken without a live audience.
Marina Abramović is one of a generation of artists that also includes Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, all of whom began to place the same importance on performance as previously conceded to other art forms. Abramović has said of her work: Life is inside the performance and the performance is inside life.
The daughter of partisans who took part in World War II, Marina Abramović received a strict upbringing within a political context of censorship. She trained at the Fine Arts Academy in Belgrade where she subsequently taught. In the early 1970s she embarked on her prolific artistic career, moving to Amsterdam at the end of that decade where she met the German artist Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) who would be her partner for more than a decade. Abramović has been the subject of solo exhibitions at numerous leading museums and art centres in Europe and the USA, including the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (The Netherlands, 1985); the Musée National dArt Moderne-Centre George Pompidou, Paris (1990); the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1983), and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (UK, 1995). Her work has been included in leading international art events such as the Venice Biennial (1976 and 1997) and Documenta VI, VII and IX in Kassel (Germany, 1997, 1982 and 1992). Exhibitions on the artist have travelled around the world, including Objects Performance Video Sound (1995), which was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford and the Irish Museum of Modern Art of Dublin. In 2000, the Kunstverein in Hanover presented a solo exhibition on her work while two years later Abramović took part in the exhibition Berlin-Moscow, which opened at the Martin Gropius-Bau in Berlin and concluded in 2004 at the State Historical Museum in Moscow.
Abramović was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennial in 1997 and in 2003 received the Bessie Prize for her performance The House with the Ocean View, which took place over twelve days in a New York gallery. In 2008 she was awarded the Commanders Cross of Austria for her contribution to art. In 2009 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Plymouth (UK) while the following year the MoMA presented a major retrospective of her work. It included the performance The Artist is Present, which lasted for more than 700 hours. 2011 saw the first performance of the play The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, directed by Robert Wilson, in which both Abramović herself and the actor William Dafoe perform. Since 2012 the artist has been actively involved in the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) based in Hudson, New York, which promotes and disseminates performance internationally.