Abramović is a key pioneer of the use of performance as a visual art form, with the body being both her subject and medium. She directly confronts and engages the viewer while exploring the limitations of the body and the relationship between performer and audience. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. Belonging to the generation of pioneering performance artists that includes Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, Abramović created many seminal early performance pieces and continues to make important durational works.
Her work has been included in many large-scale international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (1976 and 1997, where she was awarded the Golden Lion) and Documenta VI, VII and IX, Kassel, Germany (1977, 1982 and 1992). In 1998, the exhibition Artist Body – Public Body toured extensively, including the Kunstmuseum and Grosse Halle, Bern, Switzerland and La Gallera, Valencia, Spain.
Abramovic was honored for a series of performances entitled Seven Easy Pieces by the Guggenheim at their International Gala in 2006 and by the AICA-USA, which awarded her the designation Best Exhibition of Time Based Art in 2007. She was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Artist is Present, in 2010; the following year, the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, Russia, also presented a major retrospective of Abramović’s oeuvre. In 2011, Abramović participated in visionary director Robert Wilson’s The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, the critically acclaimed re-imagination of Abramović’s biography, which continues to tour internationally. The feature length documentary, Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, premiered in 2012 at the Sundance Film Festival and has received critical acclaim.
Her most recent work in establishing MAI, Marina Abramović Institute, to create a physical home for the teaching, nurture and extension of performance art in all its facets has been an international crowd-funding success story, utilising new forms of audience engagement.
In Freeing The Memory, Abramović is seated on a chair, head tilted backwards, face full frame. Speaking Serbo-Croatian (with an occasional English or Dutch word), she recites all the words in her memory – like a mantra – at once reflecting her particular experience of being a woman while attempting to empty her mind to achieve a higher level of consciousness. The constant cadence of the words gives the work a sustained intensity that puts the artist and the audience into a trance-like state, subverting the gendered conventions of Western society and culture.
Abramovic lives and works in New York.