The PAC in Milan is the venue chosen by Marina Abramović to host her eagerly awaited new body of work, entitled The Abramović Method. This is the first major museum exhibition premiering new works since her groundbreaking retrospective in 2010 at the MoMA, New York. The Abramović Method will be on view at the PAC from March 21 through June 10, 2012.
Promoted by the Milan Department of Culture, Fashion and Design and jointly produced by the PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea and 24 ORE Cultura–Gruppo 24 ORE, the event is curated by Diego Sileo and Eugenio Viola.
Marina Abramović is one of the most fascinating and magnetic figures of our time whose artistic trajectory is linked to the very history of performance art. A pioneer of this performance art since the 1970s and the winner of the Golden Lion award at the 1997 Venice Bienniale, she has often gone beyond her physical and psychological limits, endangered her personal safety, shattered frameworks and conventions, and probed deeply into her own fears and those of her spectators, bringing art into contact with physical and emotional experience, and connecting it with life itself.
The Abramović Method was born from the artist’s reflections on three major performances from the last decade: The House With the Ocean View (2002), Seven Easy Pieces (2005) and The Artist is Present (2010). These performances left a deep imprint on Abramović’s perception of her work in relation to the public.
“In my experience, as developed in a career of over 40 years, I have arrived at the conclusion that the public plays a very important and indeed crucial role in performance,” she explains. “The performance has no meaning without the public because, as Duchamp said, it is the public that completes the work of art. In the case of performance, I would say that public and performer are not only complementary but almost inseparable.”
It will thus be the public, guided and prompted by the artist, that experiences her “interactive installations” in The Abramović Method with the support of Rottapharm|Madaus. These works, which combine furniture with embedded minerals, allow for the public to interact with them though standing, sitting or lying down on the sculptures. Thes objects present a physical and mental pathway that transforms the spaces of the PAC into an experience made up of darkness and light, absence and presence, and altered perceptions of space and time. Through this pathway, people are offered the chance to expand their senses, to observe, and to learn to listen, both to others and to themselves.
In order to emphasize the dichotomies of observer and observed, actor and spectator, Marina Abramović has install a series of telescopes within the exhibition, by AURIGA, for visitors to look at the macro and micro point of views of those who decide to tackle the interactive installations.
This is the “Abramović Method” through which the artist trained herself, a process that reached its peak in the performance The Artist is Present at the MoMA (2010), in which she performed daily during public hours for duration of the exhibition. For this, her longest solo piece to date, she sat in silence at a table, inviting visitors to take the seat across from her for as long as they chose within the timeframe of the museum’s hours of operation. Interacting solely through eye contact, the involvement of the vistors completed the perfomace and allowed for the participants to have a personal experience with the artist and the piece itself. A monumental installation, on view for the first time in Italy, will re-visit this memorable performance, setting the stage for their exploration of The Abramović Method.
The Abramović Method is born out of awareness that the act of performance is capable of bringing about a radical transformation both in the performer and in the public. In an age when time is truly precious but also truly rare, Marina Abramović calls upon the actors and spectators to stop and experience the present moment.
Visitors will be helped to attain a deeper understanding of the Abramović method by a selection of previous works, which will be on view in the exhibition. From Dozing Consciousness (1997) to Homage to Saint Therese (2009), her works are based on the same principles and the same untiring pursuit of an “energetic” expansion of perception, capable of combining age-old wisdom and traditions with contemporary reality.
This exhibition is will also present excerpts from “MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ – THE ARTIST IS PRESENT” directed by Matthew Akers, produced by Show of Force for HBO in co-production with AVRO Television and in collaboration with GA&A Productions and distributed in Italy by GA&A Productions and Feltrinelli Real Cinema. Concurrent with the opening of the exhibition at the PAC, an Italian preview of the film in its entirety will be presented in Milan on March 22. The film has garnered critical praise in the festival circut and won The Berlin International Film Festival’s Public Award in February 2012.
The Abramović Method will also be the subject of a documentary film directed by Giada Colagrande with the support of Fondazione Furla. “We’re happy to contribute to the achievement this project,” says Giovanna Furlanetto, the foundation president, “because we’re very bound with Marina, an exstraordinary artist that was patroness of the 7th edition of the Furla Awards, and we really appreciate Giada Colagrande’s sensibility.”
The catalogue, edited by the exhibition’s curators Diego Sileo and Eugenio Viola, will be published by 24 ORE Cultura–Gruppo 24 ORE with texts by the two curators as well as texts by Renato Barilli, Achille Bonito Oliva, Germano Celant, Gillo Dorfles, Antonello Tolve, Angela Vettese and Neville Wakefield.
The catalogue will be published in two volumes. The first, Italian Works, will feature all of the performances staged in Italy by Marina Abramović. Created at different stages in her 40-year career, the publication documents her special relationship with Italy, which has hosted some of her most significant performances. Among other, the book includes Rhythm 10 (1973) in Rome; Rhythm 4 (1974) in Milan; to dangerous Rhythm 0 (1974) in Naples; Imponderabilia (1977) in Bologna; Balkan Baroque (1997), winner of the Venice Bienniale Golden Lion award; at Mambo at Marienbad (2001) in Volterra; and so many others. The second volume will focus exclusively on the process leading up to The Abramović Method and will include docuemention of the various phase of preperation, from the staging of the exhibtion to the direct experience of participants in this unique method of creating performance art.
Photo credits: Robert Fekete