Marina Abramović: 512 Hours at the Serpentine Gallery
When Marina Abramović performed her now-legendary performance art piece The Artist Is Present at the MOMA in 2010, visitors queued up for hours in order to have the opportunity to sit before the famous artist and look into the face of a living artwork that acted for – and reacted to – the response of the spectator.
Now, after much lobbying from the Serpentine Gallery in London, she has come to the UK in order to perform the conceptual art piece 512 Hours: her latest – and ultimate – attempt to try and strip away every superfluous object in order to create art using its two most basic elements – the performer and the public. Developing the idea that sparked the MOMA performance, she now invites the spectator to not just watch the art, but to become an active part of it as well. Visitors to the gallery are asked to leave all belongings behind – including mobile telephones and watches – so as to ease the total immersion of the conscious mind in the atmosphere of the moment. Starting from no one in the three barren, white exhibition halls of the gallery, but Abramović herself and her assistants, the space is gradually filled with people who are then led by each of them to different spots in the various rooms. They may stand there, eyes closed, for as long as they wish, or stroll quietly through the space and watch the curious, random shifting of the living, human elements that constitute the performance.
What’s pleasing about the piece is the public’s interest and enthusiastic participation, even from those who may not have any knowledge of contemporary art or thorough comprehension of what the artist’s intention is. The mental “baggage” that each visitor brings to the piece is integral to idea of its objective; where the means are more important than the results, where the outcome is unknown. Indeed, this unscripted creation is an important method of many of Abramović’s pieces. The interaction between artist and spectator, sometimes by way of the mirroring of the other’s movements (such as in The Artist Is Present, or 2002’s The House with the Ocean View) or little more than mutual gazing, is a principal element of much of her art. The loveliest aspect of Abramović’s Serpentine “experiment” is the aim to not only create art for the public, but with the public as well.
Photo: Marco Anelli
Marina Abramović: 512 Hours is at the Serpentine Gallery until 25th August 2014, for further information visit here.
Watch the trailer for Marina Abramović’s The Artist Is Present here: