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Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

A pioneer in her field

Installations at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center as part of Bangkok Art Biennale 2022. Photos © Marina Abramovic

Eminent conceptual and performance artist Marina Abramovic will be in Bangkok to give a lecture on "The History Of Long Durational Works Of Art And MAI". Over the past 50 years, Abramovic has earned worldwide acclaim as a pioneer of performance art. She has consistently tested the limits of her physical and mental endurance. Abramovic participated in previous Bangkok Art Biennales in 2018 and 2020. For this edition on the theme of "CHAOS: CALM", she is showing nine stunning video works, two of which were created in Thailand.

Ahead of her lecture, Abramovic discusses the Bangkok Art Biennale and her art.

The years 2021-22 have been full of chaos and despair due to war, pandemic and natural disasters. Do you think art and artists can offer refuge, calm and trust to the world?

A very important function of artists today is not just to be the oxygen of society, but also to bring hope and lift the spirits of human beings.

You gave a memorable talk at Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018. What will you focus on in the upcoming lecture on Jan 25 in Bangkok?

The lecture will cover everything about performance art you need to know. It will consist of different visual materials talking about the art of performance and explain the relation of performance to other mediums. I want to talk a little bit about the history of long durational art, not just in visual art but also in music, dance, opera and theatre. I want to focus on contemporary long durational work today and provide an introduction to the Abramovic Method.

Installations at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center as part of Bangkok Art Biennale 2022. ©Marina Abramovic

The theme of this edition of the Bangkok Art Biennale is 'CHAOS: CALM'. Please tell us about your selection of nine video works for this biennale.

My work has always dealt with contradictions. By showing contradictions, I am looking to find the middle way. There is an old Sufi saying "the worst is the best". By going to the limits of the physical and mental body, we can come to the other side to find peace and tranquillity.

The installation is divided into two sections. 'CHAOS', which includes my works AAA-AAA, Sea Punishing, 8 Lessons On Emptiness, The Scream and Dragon Heads. While 'CALM' contains City Of Angels, Boat Emptying, Stream Entering 2, The Kitchen and The Current.

What has impressed you most about Bangkok?

Bangkok is a perfect example of chaos and calm. You confront yourself with all the noise, air pollution, traffic jams and rivers of people in the street and at the same time, you can find a temple with meditation, prayers and a complete sense of peace. I like this contradiction and for an artist, it is such an inspiring city to wander around and discover new and unpredictable things.

Sea Punishing, Performance. ©Marina Abramovic

For your solo exhibition 'After Life' at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2023, will there be new performance pieces and installations?

After waiting over three years for the show since it was postponed by Covid, I have changed the name of the show to simply my name, 'Marina Abramovic', and 30% of the show is completely new work. The show is not constructed chronologically and is not a typical retrospective. The titles of the pieces will be Public Participation, Communist Body, The Artist's Body: Physical Limits, Absence Of The Body, Mining Energy From Nature, Coming And Going, Mortal Body, Spirit Body and The Artist's Body: Mental Limits.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2022's special programme "History Of Long Durational Work And MAI" by Marina Abramovic will take place on Jan 25 from 6-8.15pm at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. Tickets are available at For more information, visit or follow @BkkArtBiennale (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Line).


Marina Abramovic. Photo: Marco Anelli

From there to here

Marina Abramovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1946. From the beginning of her career, spanning over four decades, Abramovic has pioneered performance art, creating some of the form's most important early work. Known as the "godmother of performance art", the body has always been both Abramovic's subject and medium. Exploring her physical and mental limits in works that ritualise the simple actions of everyday life, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. She has explored new notions of identity by bringing in the participation of observers and highlighting the role of the public.

Abramovic was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale for the video installation and performance Balkan Baroque. In 2008, she was decorated with the Austrian Commander Cross for her contribution to art history. In 2013, the French Minister of Culture accepted her as an Officer to the Order of Arts and Letters. In addition to these and other awards, Abramovic also holds multiple honorary doctorates from institutions around the world.

Notable performances include The House With The Ocean View at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, in 2002, and 7 Easy Pieces at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2005. In 2010, Abramovic had her first major US retrospective and simultaneously performed for over 700 hours in "The Artist Is Present" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Using herself and the public as a medium, Abramovic performed for three months at the Serpentine Gallery in London, in 2014. The piece was titled after the duration of the work, 512 Hours.

In 2012, she founded the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI), a non-profit foundation for performance art, that focuses on performance, long durational works and the use of the Abramovic Method. MAI is a platform for immaterial and long durational works to create new possibilities for collaboration among thinkers of all fields.

In 2016, her publication Walk Through Walls: A Memoir was published by Crown Archetype. Her retrospective The Cleaner opened at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, in February 2017 and toured the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Oslo, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, the Centre for Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu, Toruń, and concluded at Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade in 2020.

In July 2020, the Bayerische Staats Oper presented the world premiere of 7 Deaths Of Maria Callas, which will continue to tour. In 2023, she will present her solo exhibition at the UK's Royal Academy, and become the first female artist in the institution's 250-year history to occupy the entire gallery space with her work.

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