The works by Marina Abramovic inspire by their essential reality and deep sense of the limits of human body and the wider horizons for human mind. This objective takes notice of Marina Abramovic, as a performance artist. Ephemeral essence of things is represented naturally in all of her performances. It stays so even on the imprints of her works. That is to say, her ability to shock and give the notion of consciousness and unconscious states which can be gained through a set of different feelings is all touching upon the use of body. To make it plain, everyone is able to get into the sphere of Marina Abramovic’s experiments with the body while admitting her deep devotion to sacrificing herself for the sake of the well-shaped performances and artistic value thereof.


First of all, Marina Abramovic uses her own body to show its implication to the sphere of conscientious affects. This is the basis to make account of the artist’s own experiences being shared directly with the audience. It is quite easier to deliver joy or pain from a direct contactor and performer in one to those sharing the value of suchlike performances. There are plenty of comments on disturbingly masochistic evaluation of the Abramovic’s art. Marina Abramovic justifies such claims in the following way: Every artist deals with these issues using different media and tools – I use the body.[1]The retrospective by Abramovic leans toward getting the gist of two feelings which seems ominous to people, namely: pain and dying.[2] This is an overall idea, so to speak, of all performances by the artist. Thus, one should keep it in mind that these two constituents are full of sense that overwhelms the emotional side of the Abramovic’s performance.

Delving well into the scope of the Abramovic’s talent and her ability to amaze and take her implications in art as a given, it is better to point out her thoughts every time she creates or stages her performances. The artist is well-understood when there is no place for doubts, as the performance is largely done by the artist herself. In the interview to Helena Kontova, Abramovic once pointed out: Our work deals with our bodies and that makes us think about vitality.[3] The energy of the body and its stupor under some circumstances are the basic features to be delivered in front of the public.

Her performance called Rhythm 10 is an exemplification of her use of twenty knives while playing the game of sticking knife rhythmically between the fingers in a manner similar to 5-finger fillet:


Figure 1 Rhythm 10


This is the performance which was recorded and then played in order to distinctively illuminate each time the knife cuts Marina Abramovic’s fingers. The gist of suchlike performance is to find out the link between the past and present experiences in order to implement them in the future. That is to say, the artist wants to put past, present, and future together. As an artist who uses her body as a medium, it is fascinating to hear Abramović’s feelings on fear and limitations.[4] On the other hand, it is an illumination of what feels an artist herself through her personal artist’s interpretation. Hence, it is genuinely a way of how Abramovic’s artistic thought penetrates into an observer’s mind.


Figure 2 Rhythm 10



Frankly speaking, the artist positions herself as a person who is inseparable from doubts and failure. This is a presumably general standpoint on estimating the impacts through Abramovic’s art. She is aimed in her art at finding out some biological, psychological, sexual and other features coming up to a performer and shared within the audience. One may simply suppose that Abramovic alluded to the commodification of art and artist by critiquing conventions of and demands for female beauty in art and contemporary culture.[5] The rest of assumptions on the art performed by Abramovic are a mere extent of someone’s own suggestions and viewpoints.

The idea is that Marina Abramovic is transcendent as well as transparent in her vision of the art. She conforms to the failure, as something artistically incomplete but valuable for getting a new push. All of Abramovic’s work is about failing: It’s about discovering when her body will fail, when her mind will fail, when her voice will fail, when her relationship will fail.[6] In the Rhythm 5, 1974 she imitated her feelings about the Communist society in which she lived by means of petroleum-drenched star lit at the very outset of the performance:


Figure 3 Rhythm 5


Every now and then the artist was cutting her nails and hair so as to put these rests into the flames. It is to continue until Abramovic’s being unconscious. This is the way to show a total purification of body and mind from the chimera of the Communist past before a host of possibilities at present. She is interested in the limits of the body while her intention was quite behind these boundaries, so to speak.

The experts and the researchers are likely to admit the uniqueness of Abramovic in her tensions with real and unreal features. She demonstrates her nude or bleeding body to show off that she has powerfully adapted the utopian belief in transformation through art into an individualized enterprise.[7] There is a so-called dialogue between mortality of the body as opposed to the immortal soul and mind of the artist. Her tandem with Uwe Laysiepen (Ulay) was a manifestation of the reasonability of two figures associated with the wholeness of a man and a woman in their mutual passion for art.

The other side of the story is that the use of the body for Abramovic is an illumination of her feelings about her family and the rigorous character of her mother in keeping control of Marina Abramovic. Once, she outlined on her relationships with Ulay: Ulay’s part is running into the wall, touching it, hitting it, the same thing…and then we come to the point where each of us functions alone.[8] The limits of her communication with the closest people including her mother were appropriately mirrored on the limits of her body. For Marina Abramovic, the body is used for all sorts of changes, and for complete ideological purgatory.[9] Taking advantage of her body, she exemplified the destruction of any burden over her, as a focal point for the audience already involved in her performance. There is no way out, but to perceive it in a full-fledged manner.

Her hatred of theatre is not taken spontaneously. Abramovic is an ardent supporter of everything that is real and not improvised to be so: Theatre is fake… The knife is not real, the blood is not real, and the emotions are not real, while performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real.[10] Everyone gets dazzled by the shocking though realistic and quite influential performances by Abramovic. Not only this, but her splendid and well-polished ability to explain the heart of her art, as based on a definite example. Moreover, it is not a one-shot performance, but an exhaustive show lasting even for few days, as it is with Seven Easy Pieces.

This performance is all about different postures and gestures applied to the body of Abramovic which gets through the process of maturation and improvement. She always wants to be a mirror for the public, as it embodies an auspicious atmosphere to let the audience figure the pivotal idea out.[11] Performing body in order to examine its affection on people is a case to represent and preserve an art form that is, by nature, ephemeral.[12]


Figure 4 Seven Easy Pieces


Her urge to break down the measure between body and an art form is so vivid and apparent to how Abramovic manipulates with her body and lets the audience to do the same thing. The question is that some time should pass to get the value of suchlike performances, since they complement personal feelings of an artist which should be individually absorbed by the public. After the enormously exhausting actions of the Seven Easy Pieces, Abramovic triumphantly occupied the space of the rotunda and in this way transcended the limitations of her own body.[13]

It seems that Abramovic could have managed the issue of the body limits by growing in her performance and showing a particular impossibility of suchlike manipulation. When current public runs into the performances by Abramovic, the 40-years trajectory of her inimitable art form gains lots of emotions unified in an extraordinary journey of endurance, performance, and constant reinvention.[14]


Figure 5 Seven Easy Pieces


The above figure represents the culmination of Abramovic’s decision on extending the boundaries of a human body. This is where the solution of her art lays – unpredictable but real magnificence of the artistic thought over the fleshy body. Supposedly, there is no other artist to rally thoughts over the use of the body particular to Marina Abramovic. Her performances usually draw capacity audiences, as it is something intimate that one may experience through pain and fear of the artist.

However, it is applicable to Abramovic’s early works aimed at illustrating pain in action. In the interview to Helena Kontova, the artist assumes: If I hadn’t met Ulay, they would have destroyed my body.[15] However hard it comes to a man’s mind, but Abramovic is never afraid of repeating her drastic performance for the sake of right conception of it shared among observers. Hence, it comes out to be that Marina Abramovic is fearless. Is it really so? Thereupon, she often points out: For me, the most difficult piece is the one I’m about to make.[16]

Blood, danger, and disturbation complement the gist of each point prescribed to the art of Marina Abramovic. Her passion for doing so is, in fact, the consequence of her living with mother. Her mother was a strict woman who often hit her for any disobedience. Thus, the pain and carvings are now apparent to the artist. The performance Lips of Thomas gives a spectacular duration between sound-mindedness and unconsciousness. Josephine Decker reminds: When Marina performed “Lips of Thomas,” in which she cut a star into her belly and then laid on a block of ice, the audience intervened when it became clear that Marina had lost consciousness.[17]


Figure 6 Lips of Thomas


The reaction of the audience on such an expressively live performance is always quite astonishing, as the artists needs the help of a doctor at this moment just like during the Rhythm 5. However, the fascination of the physical transformation of Marina Abramovic’s body is what should be taken out of each performance by her.[18] The only question to be resolved immediately is how we replace the body of the performer with the body of another.[19] This is the construct which Abramovic tends to circumspect in a commensurate measure of total transition of the sense and the physical implementation as something left behind the scenes for a while and then sprung up spontaneously in a welcomed ensemble of a gracious performance.


To conclude, the art of Marina Abramovic is fairly extra-ordinary in understanding the role of the artist who disregards subjects, but uses her own body instead. It provokes a burst of emotions on the part of the audience which usually stay behind in a catatonic state of mind. To make it plain, one is better to show a particular zeal toward getting the figure of a performance artist on the example of Marina Abramovic. Immediacy and unpredictability are those vital components to fulfil the art form by Abramovic in a wider scope.[20] Hence, bearing it in mind, it is possible to draw upon the basics of Marina Abramovic’s art.







Reference List

Abramovic, M 2010, MARINA ABRAMOVIC AND ULAY. (H. Kontova, Interviewer), November 10.

Abramovic, M 2005, MARINA ABRAMOVIC SEVEN EASY PIECES, November 9-15 Viewed November 15, 2010, on seven easy pieces <;

Abramovic, M 2010, Marina Abramovic: I’m a mirror for the public, The Telegraph , November 13, p. 1.

Biesenbach, KP, Abramović, M & Museum of Modern Art (New York, N. Y.) 2010, Marina Abramović: the artist is present, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.

Decker, J 2010, Why Does MoMA Hate My Body? June 9, Viewed November 15, 2010, on New York Press <;

Jackson, Z 2010, Marina Abramović: What Is Performance? April 13, Viewed November 15, 2010, on MoMa PS1: Inside Out <;

O’Hagan, S 2010, Interview: Marina Abramovic, The Observer , October 3, pp. 1-6.

Pikul, C 2010, Body Issues: Marina Abramovic’s New MoMA Retrospective, March 11, Viewed November 15, 2010, on Elle <;

Stiles, K & Selz, PH 1996, Theories and documents of contemporary art: a sourcebook of artists’ writings, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Warren, JT & Lengel, LB 2005, Casting gender: women and performance in intercultural context, Peter Lang, New York, NY.

[1] Corrie Pikul, Body Issues: Marina Abramovic’s New MoMA Retrospective, (2010, March 11), Retrieved November 15, 2010, from Elle:, pp. 1.

[2] Pikul, pp. 1.

[3] Marina Abramovic (2010, November 10), MARINA ABRAMOVIC AND ULAY. (H. Kontova, Interviewer), pp. 1.

[4] Zoe Jackson (2010, April 13), Marina Abramović: What Is Performance? Retrieved November 15, 2010, from MoMa PS1: Inside Out:, pp. 1.

[5] Klaus Peter Biesenbach, Marina Abramović, Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.(2010), Marina Abramović: the artist is present, (New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art), p. 25.

[6] Josephine Decker (2010, June 9), Why Does MoMA Hate My Body? Retrieved November 15, 2010, from New York Press:, pp. 1.

[7] Biesenbach, Abramović and Museum of Modern Art, pp. 27.

[8] Kristine Stiles and Peter Howard Selz, Theories and documents of contemporary art: a sourcebook of artists’ writings, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996), p. 758.

[9] John T. Warren and Laura B. Lengel, Casting gender: women and performance in intercultural context, (New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2005), p. 172.

[10] Sean O’Hagan (2010, October 3), Interview: Marina Abramovic, The Observer , pp. 1.

[11] Marina Abramovic (2010, November 13), Marina Abramovic: I’m a mirror for the public, The Telegraph , p. 1.

[12] Marina Abramovic (2005, November 9-15), MARINA ABRAMOVIC SEVEN EASY PIECES, Retrieved November 15, 2010, from seven easy pieces:,  p. 1.

[13] Biesenbach, Abramović and Museum of Modern Art, pp. 27.

[14] O’Hagan, pp. 5.

[15] Abramovic, p. 1.

[16] Pikul, pp. 2.

[17] Decker, pp. 2.

[18] Abramovic, Seven Easy Pieces, pp. 1.

[19] Biesenbach, Abramović and Museum of Modern Art, pp. 30.

[20] Biesenbach, Abramović and Museum of Modern Art, pp. 30.

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