by Carol Becker

Marina Abramović is a force. Using her body as the vehicle and also often as the metaphor that must be stretched to its limits in order for the clarity of the spirit to become apparent, she is focused on the physical and psychological mastery of the self.

When other performance artists of her generation sought safety in the privacy of their studios, Marina pushed hard in the public arena. Performing “Seven Easy Pieces” at the Guggenheim in 2005 on seven consecutive nights, she repurposed some of her early performances as well as those of Joseph Beuys, Vitto Acconci, and others. Prostrate on a block of ice, hovering above flames, masturbating under floorboards, she enthralled Guggenheim audiences and attracted new generations to her work. For many, the witnessing of such pain and stamina was so unsettling, that on any given night young people packed the Guggenheim clutching its curves, enraptured and at times also in tears.

A gifted teacher, dedicated to the next generation and to solidifying the performance of endurance as a means of making art, she has bought a theater in Hudson, New York where she will create a unique site for the study and production of durational work. She has said, “Life is getting faster so we absolutely have to make art slower and slower.”

Marina Abramović uses the expanse of who she is and what she is able to sustain, to remind us that we must be present to each element of our lives, vigilant and aware of the world around us, perhaps with the intention of reimagining it some day soon. But the task set is never simple, surely not for the faint-hearted or the weak of mind, so we must prepare ourselves rigorously, as she does, always in training it seems, for the responsibility of simply being human.

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