Seventh Lecture Highlights



Text by Ulisses Carrilho
Photographs by Victor Nomoto
Thursday, April 23 - 2015

The process of learning and the process of teaching a delicate form of art as performance was the main subject of Marina Abramovic’s seventh conference on performance art. The main auditorium of SESC Pompeia was packed from 8pm to 10pm for the penultimate lecture delivered by Abramovic

The artist started by showing documentation of works by Rubiane Maia (The Garden) and Fernando Ribeiro (The Typewriter). Scenes of both artists in silence, working at the exhibition areas of Terra Comunal - MAI illustrated the first words of Abramovic.

Marina Abramovic started her conference on the “student body” by posing a question to the public:

'How do you teach performance? It seems impossible. And we know that something you don't teach is charisma. You can't teach energy.’

Her first words, before delving into performance art, were dedicated to the subject of energy, fundamental to the development of an artist’s journey:

'You can't teach energy. This experience, the experience of releasing energy in that way, it can only be reached if you go to the ocean, if you go to volcanos, if you go to the top of the mountains, if you go to nature or to people who have ancient knowledge'.

On learning, Abramovic remarked how important it is for the student to trust their master, the one who teaches:

'Teaching is like cleaning the ground in the Autumn. The moment you succeed to clean the ground, the leaves are back. But you have to trust your master if they say you must clean the ground.’

Following a subject that has been dealt with in the previous lectures, the artist highlighted the unique perspective provided by performing a long durational piece – and the proper way to learn this: 

'For performance, the collapse of the rational mind is very important . Sleeping, standing, walking or doing whatever it is, or even doing nothing, it seems like the work of a crazy person. Doing this for five minutes can be ok, but imagine doing this for two months. That learning can't be done from a book, you have to do it yourself'.

After showing videos, including some of young artists who recently were her students, Abramovic talked about the effects that long durational pieces have on the audience. It’s not only about learning how to do it, but it's also about letting the public know that the work will be completed:

'The artist affects the molecules of the air around them in long durational works. Those molecules touch the public. That's a miracle. People know, even if they're away, in Paris, or in another city, that Rubiane [Maia] will still be here, Grupo EmpreZa will still be here, even if the public isn't here'.

Straight to the point, Marina Abramovic remembered a few steps to succeed in being an artist:

'Face the fear, overcome the fear. There's a key to creation: Never grow up. Never miss the child attitude. Be curious. Don't repeat yourself'.

The lecture ended with a huge round of applause at 10pm.

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