Marina Abramović: Private Archaeology

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Museum of Old and New Art on Thursday 19 February 2015.

Marina Abramović: Private Archaeology image

Marina Abramović the world’s most recognised performance artist returns to Australia after a 17-year absence to participate in two projects that continue her extraordinary evolving creative life: the first opens at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the second is Kaldor Public Art Projects.

The two projects offer the public a multi-faceted encounter with Abramović and her work that begins at MONA on June 13 (through October 5) with Private Archaeology, a solo exhibition; followed on June 24 (through July 5) by Kaldor Public Art Projects’ Marina Abramović: In Residence, with a series of exercises from the Abramović Method to take place at Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay, Sydney.

The collaboration between two of the country’s leading private arts patrons, David Walsh and John Kaldor, is their first creative co-presentation. It is a complementary engagement that offers the public a thoughtful, unprecedented and personal encounter with Abramović’s pioneering work starting in the 1970s, each decade until today.

At MONA, Private Archaeology will be a major exhibition showing her early foundational work with Ulay (German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, her lover and collaborative partner from 1976 to 1988), along with solo works that demonstrate her relentless commitment to exploring the physical and mental limits to her being. In more recent works to be displayed, the public is no longer merely a voyeur but part of the artwork.

Abramović has stated that her time in the Australian Outback from October 1980 to March 1981 with the Pitjantjatjara and Pintupi people of the Western Desert was a seminal point in her life that changed how she presented herself in future performance works:

“I’ve visited Australia many times since 1979 to study Aboriginal culture. I participated in artist residencies and the Sydney Biennale. I had a profound experience in the country. I then left for a long time in order to create works of art that could communicate my experience there. Now, after many years I will have a solo exhibition, at MONA, with a variety of works from different periods in my life. There will be photographs, video, objects, a sound installation and an exercise from the Abramović Method.”

David Walsh says Marina Abramović offers herself and her work to each of us:

“Christ died on the Cross for our sins. So the New Testament tells us. Hopefully, I’ll do something worthy of his sacrifice one day. I’ve got real potential when it comes to sin. Marina Abramović seems to operate for all us. Her sins, her excesses, her minimalist, egocentric actions define the boundaries of what it is to be human. I would do the stuff she does if I had the balls. And the brains. And the desperation to understand. I’d rather be represented by a sinner than a saint.”