March 4 - April 16, 2022
March 4 - April 16, 2022
Sean Kelly Gallery is delighted to announce Performative, Marina Abramović's ninth solo exhibition at the gallery.
Presenting four distinct turning points in Abramović's five-decade career, the exhibition chronicles both the development of her oeuvre and how it has influenced performance art globally. This presentation features Abramović's iconic early performance, Rhythm 10, 1973, as well as her acclaimed 2010 MoMA performance, The Artist is Present, represented by a video installation. The public is invited to interact with a selection of Abramović's "transitory objects," in which natural materials transmit energy to the visitor. Finally, a screening of Abramović's latest film, Seven Deaths, is being shown for the first time in the United States.
Together, these different bodies of work demonstrate how Abramović has shaped the trajectory of performance art over the last five decades and changed the public's perception of and interaction with this art form.
From the beginning of her career in Belgrade in the early 1970s, Marina Abramović has pioneered performance as a visual art form. It was at this time that she created some of the most important early works in her practice, including Rhythm 10, 1973. This piece documents the performance in which Abramović splayed her left hand on a large scroll of white paper and began to rhythmically stab the spaces between her fingers with a knife at increasing speed until she cut herself, paused, picked up a new knife, and resumed the performance. Accompanying the images will be the sound recording of the performance.
Rhythm 10, marked a pivotal moment when Abramović first began to consider herself a performance artist.
I place a white sheet of paper on the floor.
I place 20 knives of different sizes and shapes on the paper.
I place 2 tape recorders with microphones on the floor.
I turn on the first tape recorder.
I take the first knife and stab in between the fingers of my left hand as fast as possible.
Every time I cut myself, I change the knife.
When I’ve used all of the knives, (all the rhythms) I rewind the tape recorder.
I listen to the recording of the first part of the performance.
I repeat the first part of the performance.
I take the knives in the same order, follow the same order, follow the same rhythm, and cut myself in the same places.
In this performance the mistakes of time past and the time present are synchronized.
I rewind the second tape recorder and listen to the double rhythm of the knives.
Duration: 1 hour
Museo d'Arte Contemporanea
Villa Borghese, Rome.
The first version of this performance (with 10 knives)
was performed at the Edinburgh Festival, 1973.
“This was the first time that I understood [the] energy of the audience, and how actually this energy, I could take and transmit it into my own and give it back. And it was the first time that I didn’t feel pain or any kind of discomfort doing it, that I understood that in performance my body is object and subject and I can push the limits in front of the public as far as I can, much more than if I would do in my own private life.”
These first early solo performances pushed the boundaries of self-discovery, both for herself and her audience. They tested the limits of physical endurance, exploring ritual, gesture, even pain, to interrogate the parameters of art and challenge the fundamental relationship between performer and audience.
The Artist Is Present
Originally presented in 2010 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Artist Is Present was inspired by Abramović’s belief that extending the length of a performance beyond expectations serves to alter our perception of time and foster a deeper engagement with the experience. Abramović sat silently at a wooden table across from an empty chair, as visitors to the museum were invited to take turns sitting across from her for eight hours a day, over nearly three months, totaling 716 and one half hours.
All Images: Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present, 2010, MoMA Performance. Photographs: Marco Anelli, Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives.
This presentation includes a six-projection film documenting, in real time, the performance at MoMA. On the left wall are the faces of each of the individuals who took a seat opposite Abramović, while the right wall shows the artist's face in reaction to each participant. The rear wall features a monitor showing Abramović and visitors seated at the table together.
In 1988, after completing one of her more grueling durational performances in which she walked nearly 3,000 kilometers from one end of the Great Wall of China to its center point, Abramović began to create what she refers to as "transitory objects." In these works, the artist incorporated natural materials into interactive objects to transmit the various energy qualities of different minerals.
This presentation includes four chairs, which incorporate different materials, and an installation of three Snowflake Obsidian "pillows." Visitors are invited to use these objects to become the performer, thus completing each piece. These works marked the first time the artist invited the public to participate directly in her practice.
“All the transitory objects have one thing in common: they do not exist on their own; the public must interact with them. Some objects are there to empty the viewer, some to give energy, and some to make a mental departure possible.”
For its New York premiere, Abramović’s cinematic film Seven Deaths, 2021, is being shown in the lower gallery. This one-hour, one-minute, and thirty-second performance is a continuation of the artist’s lifelong meditation on the female body as a source of both power and pain. Abramović turns her focus to renowned opera singer Maria Callas, whose stunning soprano voice captivated audiences around the world in the mid-20th century. In her film Seven Deaths, Abramović is joined by long-term collaborator, actor Willem Dafoe to illustrate seven of Maria Callas’ famous solo arias with an interpretive recreation of the protagonist’s death. The themes present in the film coincide with Abramović’s ambitious live action opera, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, which premiered at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in September 2021 and traveled to the Opéra National de Paris, and the Greek National Opera in Athens. In 2022, it will be performed at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (April 8-10) and Real Teatro San Carlo in Naples (May 13-15).
Clip from Marina Abramović, Seven Deaths, 2021, color video, stereo sound, runtime: 61 min 30 sec, edition of 5 with 2 APs. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives.
Artist Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly have partnered with photographer Marco Anelli, leading online art marketplace Artsy, and Baobab Frames to help support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by hosting a benefit auction in which 100% of the proceeds will go to Direct Relief’s emergency response to aid Ukraine.
The two lots will feature a unique opportunity to be photographed sitting with iconic performance artist Marina Abramović at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, on Saturday, April 16, the final day of her current exhibition, Performative. The winning bidders will be photographed seated opposite Abramović in her installation of The Artist is Present, a six-projection film documenting, in real time, her historic 2010 performance at MoMA in which she sat silently in a chair as visitors to the museum took turns sitting across from her for eight hours a day, over nearly three months, for a total of 716- and one-half hours. Each of the winning bidders will be photographed with Abramović by renowned photographer Marco Anelli, who documented every sitting in Abramović’s legendary performance. Each sitter will receive a framed copy of the photograph signed by both Abramović and Anelli. In addition, they will receive a signed copy of Anelli’s 2021 publication, Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramović, which includes portraits of all 1545 participants in the MoMA performance.
Dafoe, Taylor. The Artist Is Present—Again: Marina Abramović Is Restaging Her Best-Known Performance to Benefit Ukraine
All proceeds will go to Direct Relief’s Ukraine aid efforts." artnet, March 18, 2022.
Marina Abramović was one of the first performance artists to become formally accepted by the institutional museum world, with major solo shows throughout Europe and the US for almost 50 years. In 2010, Abramović was the first performance artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at MoMA, and in 2023, Abramović will be the first woman to have a solo exhibition across the entire Main Galleries at the Royal Academy, London. Abramović’s first European retrospective The Cleaner was presented at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden in 2017, followed by presentations at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2107, Henie Onstad, Sanvika, Norway, 2017, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany, 2018, Centre of Contemporary Art, Torún, 2019, and Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, Serbia, 2019. Her work has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Istanbul, Turkey; the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece; SESC, Pompeia, São Paulo, Brazil; the Serpentine Gallery, London, UK; the Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan; the Contemporary Art Center, Malaga, Spain; the Park Avenue Armory, New York; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria; Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy; the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, Russia; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Abramović has participated in many large-scale international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1997, for which she was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist, and Documenta VI, VII and IX, Kassel, Germany in 1977, 1982, and 1992. Abramović has received numerous awards, most recently, the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts, 2021. She also received the Globart Award in Vienna, 2018; the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres Officier for work in Bolero, Paris, 2013; and the Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Art in Vienna, 2008, amongst others.