For more than four decades, Marina Abramovic has worked with presence and her own body as her primary artistic media. This has made her one of the most widely acknowledged artists of our time. Her uncompromising self-exposure has evoked criticism and praise in equal measure. Now, Moderna Museet opens the exhibition The Cleaner – the artist’s first major retrospective in Europe.
The Cleaner was produced in close collaboration with Marina Abramovic and features more than 120 works. It presents several of her best-known performances, including the Relation Works with German artist Ulay, her collaborator and partner from 1976-1988. These works take the form of live reperformances, films, installations and photographs from the 1970s to today. Moderna Museet also show early paintings and works on paper from the 1960s and onwards, some of which are being exhibited for the first time. Also included are her relatively unknown audio works from the 1970s.
“Even in her earliest works, Marina Abramovic expands the given boundaries, in terms of scale, medium, and the relationship to the audience. The responsibility shared by the artist and the participants for what the work can evolve into permeates her entire oeuvre”, says Lena Essling, curator of the exhibition.
Marina Abramovic was born in Belgrade, Ex-Yugoslavia in 1946, to partisan parents, who met during WWII and were national heroes under Marshal Tito’s regime. Raised in her childhood primarily by her orthodox grandmother, religion and revolution impacted profoundly on her early life and continue to permeate her artistic practice. In Rhythm 5 (1974/2011) she sets fire to a communist star that can also be read as a pentagram when inverted. The video installation The Hero (2001) is a ritualistic elegy for her father.
Abramovic’s works seek the core of concepts such as loss, memory, being, pain, endurance and trust. Her work is a matter of life and death – questions about existence and art are brought to a head in ways that may both provoke and move us. Rarely has anyone explored the physical and mental pain thresholds as she does. In The Lovers (1988) Abramovic and Ulay undertook a 90-day walk from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China. Their halfway meeting marked the end of their love affair and more than ten-year partnership.
Marina Abramovic “The Cleaner” | filmed by Out of Sync | Stockholm Feb 2017
On view | Feb 18-May 21 2017
Artworks courtesy | Marina Abramovic
Text | Moderna Museet
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
© Out of Sync 2017