Marina Abramović returns for a special talk on Jan 25

Abramović's talk is part of the Bangkok Art Biennale

Thumbnail picture courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives. “History Of Long Durational Work And MAI” is the title of an upcoming lecture to be conducted by performance and conceptual artist Marina Abramović. It's scheduled for Jan 25 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from 6-8.15pm, as part of the ongoing Bangkok Art Biennale, which runs until Feb 23.

Photo by Marco Anelli, 2022, Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives.

Abramović has 50 years of experience under her belt as a pioneer of performance art. Known for putting her physical and mental limits to the test in her work, she allowed herself to be a subject that strangers can do whatever to in Rhythm 0 with 72 objects available, including a gun. In The Lovers, she and then-partner late German performance artist Ulay, who also was an art pioneer, walked from two ends on the Great Wall of China for 90 days to meet and mark the end of their relationship and collaboration. Newer fans may know her from her association with Lady Gaga and Jay-Z and her performance piece The Artist Is Present, in which she sat still opposite strangers and had a touching reunion with Ulay at MoMA in 2010.  

Abramović has participated in the Bangkok Art Biennales in 2018 and 2020. For the current edition, under the theme of “Chaos: Calm”, she is showing nine video works, two of which were created in Thailand. 

Installation view, Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. Bangkok Art Biennale 2022. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archive

The following interview is between Marina Abramović and Apinan Poshyananda, artistic director, Bangkok Art Biennale, supplied to Guru by BAB.   

The years 2021-22 have been full of chaos and despair due to war, pandemic and natural disasters. Do you think art and artists can offer refuge, calm and trust to the world? 

A very important function for artists today is not just to be the oxygen of society but also to bring hope and lift the spirits of human beings. 

You gave a memorable talk at Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018. What will you focus on in the upcoming lecture?

The lecture will cover everything about performance art you need to know. The lecture will consist of different visual materials talking about the art of performance and will explain the relation of performance to other mediums. I want to talk a little bit about the history of long durational art, not just in visual art but also in music, dance, opera and theatre. I want to focus on contemporary long durational work today and provide an introduction to the Abramović Method. 

Tell us about your selection of nine stunning video works for this biennale.

My work has always dealt with contradictions. By showing contradictions, I am looking to find the middle way. There is an old Sufi saying 'the worst is the best’. By going to the limits of the physical and mental body, we can come to the other side to find peace and tranquillity. The installation is divided into two sections. Chaos includes AAA-AAA, Sea Punishing, 8 Lessons On Emptiness, The Scream and Dragon Heads; and Calm, which contains the works City Of Angels, Boat Emptying, Stream Entering 2, The Kitchen and The Current

AAA-AAA. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives.

Dragon Heads. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives

The Current. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archive

What has impressed you most about Bangkok?

The city of Bangkok is a perfect example of chaos and calm. You confront yourself with all the noise, air pollution, traffic jams and rivers of people in the street and at the same time you can find a temple with meditation, prayers and a complete sense of peace. I like this contradiction and for an artist, it is such an inspiring city to wander around and discover new and unpredictable things. 

For your solo exhibition, After Life, which will be on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from Sept 23 to Dec 10, will there be new performance pieces and installations?

After waiting more than three years for the show since it was postponed by Covid, I changed the name of the show to simply my name 'Marina Abramović'. Thirty percent of the show is completely new work. The show is not constructed chronologically and is not a typical retrospective. The titles of the spaces will be: Public Participation, Communist Body, The Artist’s Body: Physical Limits, Absence Of The Body, Mining Energy From Nature, Coming And Going, Mortal Body, Spirit Body, The Artist’s Body: Mental Limits.

Get tickets to Marina Abramović‘s talk via Ticketmelon at Tickets start from B800 and B300 for students. 

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