Marina Abramovic’ Second Workshop Highlights
Text by INTERWEAVE for MAI
Photos by NATALIA TSOUKALA
Wednesday, March 30th – 2016
It is March 22nd, the first day of As One’s third week and Marina Abramovic is leading the second and final workshop that she will conduct during the exhibition. Abramovic is going to talk with eight Greek artists -some of whom have also presented interventional performance works in As One-, and explore different ways to develop their work.
After inviting the audience to breathe deeply with their eyes closed, Abramovic welcomes them to a ”here and now” state, and she describes the structure that the workshop is going to follow: she is going to share with the audience some video items from her own archive while explaining some core concepts and practices applied to performance art (performing with the chest, performing body, body limits, body drama); she is going to discuss the Cleaning the House workshop and the way it prepares artists for long-durational performance; and then she will yield the floor to the artists, to present their work.
The Performing Body, Body Limits, Body Drama
To begin, she points out that “In performance art, everything has a meaning”: you may use your whole body as a tool to express yourself.
Abramovic projects video excerpts to illustrate how someone can make performance by using several parts of his/ her body, such as the chest. Immediately after, she explains how the quality of the performance can depend on the artist, using something that they are familiar with: “If you are a writer, you work with the text; if you are a dancer, you use dance; if you are a visual artist you work with visual material.”
To highlight the way in which an artist can use his/ her entire body as a tool to do performance art, she makes an extended reference to Pina Bausch. “Pina Bausch actually married performance with dance. She put the performance artist in real situations, such as mountain or snow. That’s why the emotion generated by her works is real.”
Then she talks about the body limits and the body drama:
“Body limits come when you feel that you can’t keep on going anymore, while in the same time you understand that you have to use every single molecule to go further. Body drama is what happens when there is a severe change in energetic states in the body, such as what happens to a singer when they perform for a large crowd and receive all of the energy from the crowd.”
The Cleaning the House Workshop
To continue, Abramovic talks about the long-durational performance works presented in As One: “How are these artists able to perform for seven weeks? They have done some preparation. And their preparation is called Cleaning the House” – a workshop designed by Marina Abramovic. Lynsey Peisinger, one of Marina Abramovic’s closest collaborators and the person that led the Cleaning the House workshop for As One’s artists, is invited on stage. She talks about the experience they all shared in January, in the Peloponnese: the artists and some members of the NEON + MAI teams.
“This workshop and the exercises included in it, are designed to push the artists’ physical and mental limits, in order to prepare them for their long-durational performances in which all of their limits will be challenged. They needed to have a set of tools that they could use and rely on during the seven weeks of performing. ”
Marina and the Artists
After this analysis of performance art, it’s time for the artists to take the floor.
The first artist: Beatrice Markopoulou, visual artist, presents her work on femininity in the domesticated environment and the tension between life and death. After her short-length presentation, Marina Abramovic shares with the artist some of her thoughts: “It is not very clear to me what your work is about - I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t explained it to us”.
Τhe second artist: Marianna Kavalieratos, dancer and choreographer, shares with the public some video extracts of her previous dance works and points out that her work is about movement and composition: “The movements included are simple and pedestrian and it takes a lot of preparation and a lot of brain memory together with body memory”, she says. Then, the artist puts music on and asks the audience to follow her in a series of movement. Everyone really enjoyed it - including Abramovic!
The third artist: Emilia Bouriti, choreographer and visual artist shows some video excerpts on her work “Time Space Energy”, while pointing out that her work tries to communicate with the energy of the space and to translate it into movements.
The fourth artist: Yiannis Pappas, visual artist and one of the interventional artists of As One, presents some video excerpts of his work, and highlights that his work “explores natural or urban spaces with a critical interest in space and its symbolic elements”. After the presentation of his work, Marina Abramovic asked him several questions on the concept of his pieces and asked him to talk about the work he presented in As One (“A Key”). She concluded in a really enthusiastic tone “I am so happy that you are part of this event!”.
The fifth artist: Nikos Konstantakis, actor and performer, presents his work through just a single photo of himself standing next to the number "seven” with his body in the shape of a number seven. He then asks the public to stand up, close their eyes and interact with him. Abramovic asks him how he categorizes his work and he replies that he is a performer, so he works with his body and when he needs music, he works with music -while using also his voice, movement etc.
The sixth artist: Katerina Oikonomou, soprano and one of the interventional artists of As One, shared a video with her singing and then talked for several minutes about the interventional work she presented during the second week of the exhibition: “The second day of my performance, there was no voice. But I came, because I wanted to share this experience with the public. After her presentation, Marina Abramovic, truly thrilled, comments that it was incredible that Katerina had the courage to come back without a voice. “And that’s what made this performance unique”.
The seventh artist: Anastasia Papatheodorou, actress, director and performer and one of the interventional artists of As One, shared her As One experience with the public. “I tried to open a dialogue with the audience – to make them cry, think, remove themselves from where they are. And this durational work offered me the chance to dive into myself. Thank you for that”, she says.
The eight artist is a duo: Lovesick (Vassilis Raftoyiannis, Petros Papaeleftheriou), a pair of music DJ’s. They present their work in a really different way. After pointing out that their work consists of playing music in a long durational format, by conducting music marathons, they have a small talk with Abramovic on that style of long-durational work: “For me, the music marathons that you do are a very interesting type of performance, because in this way you reach different social structures and backgrounds”, she says.
Immediately after this, the artists played music for about twenty minutes and many members of the audience danced.