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Marina Abramović | Transitory Objects

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In 1988, after completing one of her more grueling durational performance in which she walked from one end to the center of the Great Wall of China, Marina Abramovic began to create what she refers to as “transitory objects:”

While walking the Great Wall of China, I experienced various energy states. I came to understand that these shifting states were caused by the different minerals present in the ground upon which I walked. Once I returned, I began putting these crystals and minerals into interactive, furniture-like objects. Through these objects, the public could perform instead, and feel something of what I had felt during my experiences. This was my first time inviting the public to directly participate in my practice.

The observer must become participant, because that is the only way he can have the double experience of being the observer and being observed.

White Dragon, Red Dragon, Green Dragon

When I started dealing with the transitional objects, one of the really drastic things was these 'Dragon' pieces. I have the objects on the wall, so the public has to make an historical step and stand on the wall, sit on the wall, and lie on the wall. They were off the ground and this being off the ground is very important, so that the public, with the object, completes the work.

White Dragon

White Dragon (standing), 1989, oxidized copper, obsidian, 250 x 52.3 x 45 cm, unique

White Dragon (standing), 1989, oxidized copper, obsidian, 250 x 52.3 x 45 cm, unique

Red Dragon

Red Dragon (sitting), 1989, oxidized copper, obsidian, 250 x 52.3 x 45 cm, unique

Red Dragon (sitting), 1989, oxidized copper, obsidian, 250 x 52.3 x 45 cm, unique

Green Dragon

Green Dragon (lying), 1989, oxidized copper, obsidian 52.3 x 250 x 45 cm, unique

Green Dragon (lying), 1989, oxidized copper, obsidian 52.3 x 250 x 45 cm, unique

Black Dragon, 1994, quartz crystal, stone
Stones include: rose quartz; blue quartz; clay quartz; green quartz; hematite; snowflake obsidian; clear quartz; smoked quartz; sodalite; chrysocolla and amethyst quartz, dimensions vary, edition of 21 with 4 APs 

Black Dragon, 1994, quartz crystal, stone
Stones include: rose quartz; blue quartz; clay quartz; green quartz; hematite; snowflake obsidian; clear quartz; smoked quartz; sodalite; chrysocolla and amethyst quartz, dimensions vary, edition of 21 with 4 APs 

Black Dragon


Each mineral is connected with some part of the human body. Quartz is for the eyes, iron for our blood, copper for the nervous system, amethyst for the stomach. I wanted to communicate this experience to the public so I made quartz cushions which fixed to the wall at chest-level and at head height so that people could lean against them.

black dragon 4 individual

Chair for Departure with Crystal Points

Chair for Departure with Crystal Point, 1990, iron, amethyst, 280 x 55 x 70 cm/each, unique, 2 versions

Chair for Departure with Crystal Point, 1990, iron, amethyst, 280 x 55 x 70 cm/each, unique, 2 versions

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.

Inner Sky

Inner Sky, 1991/2015, iron, amethyst geode, 200 x 220 x 85 cm, unique

Inner Sky, 1991/2015, iron, amethyst geode, 200 x 220 x 85 cm, unique

Bed for Aphrodite and Her Lovers

Bed for Aphrodite and Her Lovers, 1991, iron, pressed salt, set of 2 beds, 319 x 21 cm, various heights, unique 

Bed for Aphrodite and Her Lovers, 1991, iron, pressed salt, set of 2 beds, 319 x 21 cm, various heights, unique 

Crystal Cinema

Crystal Cinema I (crystal on floor), 1991, 1 quartz stone, 1 wooden stool, approx. 120 x 150 x 360 cm, unique

 

Crystal Cinema I (crystal on floor), 1991, 1 quartz stone, 1 wooden stool, approx. 120 x 150 x 360 cm, unique

 

Crystal Cinema II, 1991/2015, 1 quartz stone, 4 wooden stools, stone approx. 120 x 150 x 360 cm, unique

Crystal Cinema II, 1991/2015, 1 quartz stone, 4 wooden stools, stone approx. 120 x 150 x 360 cm, unique

shoes for departure text

Shoes for Departure

Shoes for Departure are made from pure amethyst and weigh 70 kilos, so you can’t walk. People in the public should take their shoes off, wear the amethyst shoes, close their eyes, not move and depart. The proposition is the mental – not the physical – departure.

Enter the shoes with bare feet. Eyes closed. Motionless. Depart.

Shoes for Departure, 1991/2017, quartz crystal, amethyst crystal, dimensions vary, approx. 8 5/8 x 21 1/4 x 10 inches/ each, unique

Shoes for Departure, 1991/2017, quartz crystal, amethyst crystal, dimensions vary, approx. 8 5/8 x 21 1/4 x 10 inches/ each, unique

It was very difficult for me to find big enough pieces of amethyst to make the shoes. Those were only found around Marabá. And in the South I would go for geodes, and I went to the mines to look for them. In Minas Gerais there mostly was tourmaline and smoke quartz and clear quartz, so every different district had a different mine, specialized in one kind of mineral. I went there with this idea of not having to have an idea and that the material would have to tell me.

Wounded Geode

 

Wounded Geode, 1994, amethyst geode, iron table and chairs, chairs: 100 x 142 x 52 cm/each, geode: 184 x 54 x 65 cm, unique

Wounded Geode, 1994, amethyst geode, iron table and chairs, chairs: 100 x 142 x 52 cm/each, geode: 184 x 54 x 65 cm, unique

I would like for my work to function as the constant mirror for the users of my objects so that they do not see me in the work, but rather themselves. That’s the fundamental thing.

Mirror For Departure

Mirror for Departure, 1994 Hematite, metal stand, wooden base, stone, 226.1 x 81.3 x 142.2 cm, unique, 2 versions

 

Mirror for Departure, 1994 Hematite, metal stand, wooden base, stone, 226.1 x 81.3 x 142.2 cm, unique, 2 versions

 

Crystal Broom for Non-Human Use

 

 

Crystal Broom, 1995, pair of wood and laser quartz crystal push brooms, each: 61 1/2 x 23 x 17 inches, unique

 

 

Crystal Broom, 1995, pair of wood and laser quartz crystal push brooms, each: 61 1/2 x 23 x 17 inches, unique

 

 

Chair for Man and His Spirit

Chair for Man and His Spirit, 1997, site-specific installation to be produced, iron, clear crystal, materials vary, unique

Chair for Man and His Spirit, 1997, site-specific installation to be produced, iron, clear crystal, materials vary, unique

Abramović created Chair for Man and His Spirit especially for MoMA P.S.1 on the occasion of their 1997 reopening. According to the artist, she felt that when you have a new house it is important to have furniture for the spirits. The spirit chair is positioned three stories above the human chair at ground level; visitors are invited to sit in the human chair. 

communicator series

The Communicator (series)

 

I used a wax cast of my own head as a metaphor for this new body of work. Each head is different and unique. The basic idea is to communicate the variety of possibilities by using a range of minerals with different properties. Art apart from other qualities, in my opinion has to have a healing function and has to create in the viewer a state of well-being. The world we live in today is imbalanced and we experience disconnection from nature. Human beings are losing their inner center, and this causes serious physical and mental instability.

The Communicator XV, wax with crystal quartz, kyanite, and lepidolite stones, 2012, unique

The Communicator XV, wax with crystal quartz, kyanite, and lepidolite stones, 2012, unique

The function of The Communicator is to trigger in the subconscious, forgotten memories and to reconnect with nature again.

The Communicator (hands 2), 2012, hands made of black wax with crystal quartz stones, 9 7/8 x 4 x 1 1/2 inches, unique

The Communicator (hands 1), 2012, hands made of white wax with crystal quartz stones, 9 7/8 x 4 x 1 1/2 inches, unique

 

The Communicator (hands 2), 2012, hands made of black wax with crystal quartz stones, 9 7/8 x 4 x 1 1/2 inches, unique

The Communicator (hands 1), 2012, hands made of white wax with crystal quartz stones, 9 7/8 x 4 x 1 1/2 inches, unique

 

The Communicator (foot 2), 2012, foot made of white wax with quartz stones, 4 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches, unique

The Communicator (foot 6), 2012, foot made of black wax with crystal quartz stone, 4 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches, unique

 

The Communicator (foot 2), 2012, foot made of white wax with quartz stones, 4 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches, unique

The Communicator (foot 6), 2012, foot made of black wax with crystal quartz stone, 4 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches, unique

 

Chair for Human Use with Chair for Spirit Use 

I’d like to make something visible for something invisible. So by making a chair for the spirit, which is invisible, you create awareness about that spirit in a way, because you are making a chair for it. And to me, that immaterial world is so important and so present in my everyday life. I was always interested in how I can actually create a bridge between me and the public; wondering how I could invite them into their own immaterial world.

Chair for Human Use with Chair for Spirit Use IV, 2015, wood, quartz crystal, 80.7 x 13.8 x 17.17 inches, unique

Chair for Human Use with Chair for Spirit Use IV, 2015, wood, quartz crystal, 80.7 x 13.8 x 17.17 inches, unique

With Chair for Human Use (II), Marina Abramović invites the public to interact not only with the artwork but also with each other. Belonging to the Transitory Objects for Human Use series, the two chairs that compose the piece provide visitors with an unusual experience, daring them to enter into a mutual gaze, a silent interaction for as long as they desire. Marina Abramović used a limited set of materials for this series, including copper, iron, wood and minerals, as she believes these elements contain certain energies.

Copper Bed for Human Use, 2012, copper, quartz stones, 210 x 200 x 70 cm, unique

Copper Bed for Human Use, 2012, copper, quartz stones, 210 x 200 x 70 cm, unique

Through research of Tibetan and Chinese medicine, I formed a correspondence between minerals and parts of the body. Quartz represented the eyes, amethyst puntas the wisdom teeth, amethyst geodes the womb, iron the blood, and copper the nerves. I called my new pieces Transitory Objects intending a double meaning: the energy given off by them was supposed to be a means of transit to a meditative rejuvenating consciousness, and I considered the objects themselves to be temporary, to be discarded once the desired consciousness had been achieved.

Chair for Human Use II, 2015, wood, quartz, chair - 109.2 x 62.23 x 81.3 cm, stool -  35.6 x 22.9 x 12.7 cm, unique, 2 versions

Chair for Human Use II, 2015, wood, quartz, chair - 109.2 x 62.23 x 81.3 cm, stool -  35.6 x 22.9 x 12.7 cm, unique, 2 versions

In my work energy played the main role. It deals always with energy: it’s about transmission of energy, it’s about receiving energy, it’s about giving energy, it’s about transforming energy. Transitory Objects in my work are just tools, they are kind of props to trigger this experience in the public. I intend the public to have a real experience with objects, but once the experience is achieved, once a particular state of mind is achieved the object is not important anymore. The development would be immaterial art and it’s not going to be with objects. To me art would be transmission of energy between people, without any kind of barrier.

- Marina Abramović

Standing Structure for Human Use, 2015, dark wood (angelim pedra), clear quartz, 218 x 59 x 58 cm/each, unique, 11 versions

Standing Structure for Human Use, 2015, dark wood (angelim pedra), clear quartz, 218 x 59 x 58 cm/each, unique, 11 versions

For inquiries, please contact lauren@skny.com