Sixth Lecture Highlights



Text by Ulisses Carrilho
Photographs by Victor Takayama
Friday, April 17 - 2015

It was all about the public as Marina Abramovic began her sixth lecture – from a series of eight she is delivering as part of Terra Comunal - MAI – calling to the stage Mauricio Ianês, one of the Brazilian artists featured in the MAI Presents program. Ianês’ performance piece The Bond takes place daily next to the “In Between” space at SESC Pompeia.

After screening video documentation of The Bond and some quotes by the artist, a series of video testimonials played shedding light on visitors’ first impressions of the performance as they entered the “In Between” space. To Ianês, art is the experience he shares with the public inside that space. The most powerful aspect of this performance, he says, is not something visible or tangible. Viewers’ reactions of both surprise and understanding, the anger and the subsequent peace they released within the performance space, together it was a fitting segue into Abramovic’s lecture topic: the public body.

The lecture centered on artwork relying heavily on its audience, whose interactive role is crucial. Examples ranged from Abramovic’s own Transitory Objects, furniture and sculpture made with crystals, to performance pieces by Ianês where he offers his body to the public.

'To me, crystals are like simplified computers of the planet. It’s important to look at the crystals and just concentrate and try to catch to the same vibrations. That’s why I called this piece Crystal Cinema.’

On the impetus for her site-specific installation Dream House (2000), a commission for   Japan's Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, she stated:

'Nowadays, people don’t dream anymore because of antidepressant pills, of being drunk or watching too much television or because of pills for insomnia. But dreams are an extremely important part of our nature.’

Speaking about art designed for public interaction, Abramovic highlighted the importance of long durational works:

'If you do something for an hour, that's one thing. If you do something for several hours, two or three months, the experience is completely different. I understood that, truly, transformation happened not in exhibitions but in long durational works.’

'Long durational work isn't something new. Let’s remember Wagner’s operas [such as Der Ring des Nibelungen]. At that time, in the 1800’s, he'd tell artists [in preparation to perform] what they should drink, what they should eat to be strong, not to go to the bathroom. Preparation is so important.’

Abramovic described long durational performances by Tehching Hsieh, an artist she greatly admires:

'If I can think of a master, I can only think of Tehching Hsieh. When I asked him after all those years making one-year [long] performances what he was doing, he said: ‘Now I’m doing life'. And that’s so great'.

There’s a fundamental difference for Abramovic when long durational performance is introduced. Transformation occurs not only for the artist, but for the public as well:

'There's this strange energy that is so much stronger when you do something longer. You need time to get it. We have to understand the public needs this time as well.’

Emphasizing the importance of preparing the public to experience long durational works, she gave an overview of Marina Abramovic Institute, also known as MAI, and described the exercises participants will engage in as part of the Abramovic Method at the Institute building in Hudson, New York.

'Slow-motion walk, water drinking chamber, crystal chamber, luminosity chamber, magnetic chamber, levitation chamber, a performance space. What will happen there is preparation in order to see something that is long durational.’

To Abramovic, the site for the Institute has a very simple purpose:

'It's important to have a house, I needed a place for the public.’

Marina Abramovic's sixth lecture on performance art at Terra Comunal - MAI was held on Thursday, April 26, from 8pm to 10pm BRT at SESC Pompeia's main auditorium.

Check our calendar for dates and times of the remaining four talks in Marina Abramovic’s lecture series.

Terra Comunal - MAI is free and open to the public until May 10, 2015 @SESC Pompeia, São Paulo - Brazil.