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Marina Abramović: In Residence

Marina Abramović: In Residence


Article by Elisha Lawrence, images by Marco Anelli.

Undeniably the most important performance artist of the last century, Marina Abramović remains one of the few pioneers of this genre to continue endurance performance. Indeed, with a career spreading more than 40 years, her oeuvre continues to be expanded through her evolution from performer to performance facilitator. In Australia for Kaldor Public Art Projects’ 30th offering, Abramović is leading a two-week immersive and interactive program, In Residence.

A peer of artists such as Bruce Nauman and Chris Burden, Abramović has enacted countless works of endurance where the mind and body are pushed to the limits. Her exhibition catalogue includes institutes of the highest calibre, including MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and the Tate. Moreover, she has been the subject of many books, documentaries and critical reviews.


Far from stationary, her practice has been constantly evolving. For example, in Cleaning The House, a workshop for MoMA (14 March to 31 May 2010), she expanded from performer to facilitator through a series of workshops where she developed and explored her techniques with other artists. Effectively, she allowed artists to experience endurance as practitioners rather than observers. Key to this shift was her own understanding of an artist’s needs. “An artist, like a blind man, should be able to see with [the] whole body not just the eyes,” she has said.

Continuing this train of thought, the evolution of her practice has fostered a desire to share her experience with the world, or at least the art going public. To this end, the In Residence workshop allows a first-hand experience of her practice.

512 Hours - Marina Abramovic

Under Kaldor’s direction, Pier 2/3 has become a leading venue in the world of contemporary art. That said, the Abramović experience is wholly unexpected. Welcomed into a large architectural space of austere elegance, where light pools on the cement floor and uniformly black clad assistants radiate a profound calm, the audience is greeted and offered noise-cancelling headphones. Facilitating the process, a hand is taken as participants instil their trust in these assistants, who patiently guide each audience member to an experience. Complete silence allows the participant into the experience of staring at colour blocks, the ceiling or another person’s welcoming eyes. Moreover, the participant self-determines the length of investment with each exercise, thereby determining the endurance element of the workshop experience.


“I will be like a conductor in the exhibition space, but it will be the public who will take the physical and emotional journey. We constantly like to be entertained, to get things from outside. We never take time to get in touch with ourselves… our inner self,” says Abramović. “My function in this new kind of performance situation is to show you, through the Abramović method, what you can do for yourself. I wanted to make this big change because I understood that actually you can’t get any experience by me doing it for you… So I’m completely shifting the paradigm, changing the rules.”

Abramović is also conducting an in residence program in which 12 selected artists – including Christian Thompson, whose work explores similar concepts of performance exploration and, in particular, ritual – will spend 12 days eating, breathing and sleeping in small uniformly pod-like structures.

Kaldor Public Art Project 30 continues the long-term engagement with pioneers in their fields. More importantly, Abramović’s workshop allows the public a very personal and intimate insight into her practice, while her mentorship of the 12 resident artists underscores a profound generosity.

Kaldor Public Art Project 30
Marina Abramović: In Residence
Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, Sydney
24 June to 5 July 2015
Free entry (restricted to ages 12 years and above)

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