A major retrospective by the New York-based Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović has opened its doors to the Moscow public. The exhibition is hosted in the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.
“The Artist is Present”, an exhibition curated by Klaus Biesenbach, features approximately 50 works spanning more than four decades of her early interventions, sound pieces, video works, installations, photographs, solo performances and collaborative performances.
The center’s entrance is marked with a sign warning that the exhibition is not advised for those under 16 years of age as it incorporates “video with explicit scenes and cruelty, and a performance that features naked people.” The sign is accompanied by Abramović’s giant portrait in a straight jacket.
“This is a metaphor,” she said at the preview of the exhibition on Friday. “You can put your body to the test any way you want and tame it in the end, but you can never tame the spirit.”
Abramović knows what she is talking about. Since the beginning of Abramović’s career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, her body has been both her subject and her medium. Exploring the limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation.
This retrospective will introduce Abramović to the Russian audience. It follows in the footsteps of her worldwide exhibitions, such as Balkan Baroque, presented at the 1997 Venice Biennale, Seven Easy Pieces at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2005), and in Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).
The exhibition is intended to make Abramović’s historical performances accessible to a larger audience. In order to do so, the exhibition will present five landmark Abramović pieces recreated by live ‘reperformers’. Video and photographic documentation, sound recordings and objects used in the original performances are exhibited alongside.
In addition, Abramović will present a new performance installation entitled Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze. Garage visitors are invited to participate in an experiment that measures brain activity when seated opposite one another – an exercise that highlights emotional, over physical, interaction.
The retrospective will be on show at Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture from 8 October to 4 December 2011. This is the last exhibition to be held at the Garage before it moves to its new address in Moscow’s Gorky Park next summer.