Art Meeting Marina Abramovic

On the 21st of September, Marina Abramovic's retrospective ‘The Cleaner’ will open in Belgrade – the city of birth of the world famous performance artist. She told Artnet news that she hasn’t been this excited about an exhibition since her solo show at MoMA in 2010. Thierry Somers, founding editor of 200%, recalls meeting Abramovic when he interviewed her for 200% #5.

As I stood next to Marina Abramovic, on the grey concrete floor of the Museum of Modern Art’s Atrium in New York, I didn’t observe any sentiment in her as one would observe in a Wimbledon champion who, in retirement, returns to the grass court on which they had written history.

The MoMA now has its own ‘Centre Court’ after Abramovic sat, silent and motionless, in the Atrium for 736.5 hours opposite strangers over the course of a three month period for her MoMA retrospective in 2010.The performance was called ‘The Artist Is Present’, a layered title that embodied the exhibition. The artist, not only physically and mentally present every day of the retrospective, was fully engaged in the moment of the ‘here and now’ as she gave her energy to every person who sat opposite her. “I became a mirror of them”, Abramovic told me on the transformational experience of each person. “That was what really moved them as they had the time to see who they truly are”.

The exhibition made headlines across the world, even creating debate and discussion on mainstream TV programs. In the last weeks of the show, there were long queues outside the MoMA as people waited for their turn to sit across from Abramovic. Many, unsuccessful in their first attempt to sit opposite her would re-queue overnight waiting for the museum to open. The length of queue was similar to that normally associated with people camping outside an Apple store waiting for the release of a highly anticipated iPhone.

The retrospective gave Abramovic worldwide recognition and also fulfilled, for her, a long-held desire. For decades, Performance Art was considered to be an alternative form of art but, with this exhibition, it was finally being taken as a serious art form.

Being an idol
Abramovic had returned to the MoMA to view the show of her close friends, the French / Italian duo, Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci. On her way to the Atrium, where that performance was to take place …

When you sign up to our newsletter we will send you a pdf of the full story of Thierry Somers’s experiences with Marina Abramovic that are printed in 200% #5. Or you can order the issue which includes an extensive interview with Abramovic, Somers’s experiences with her + a 24-page photo album of her life for which she wrote the captions that accompany the photographs. Order 200% #5

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