Fifth Lecture Highlight



Text by Ulisses Carrilho
Photographs by Hick Duarte
Thursday, April 9 - 2015

Body Drama was the main subject of Marina Abramovic’s fifth lecture at Terra Comunal - MAI. Ten minutes before the lecture, the doors of the auditorium opened and the audience was received by Marco Paulo Rolla, an artist from the MAI Presents section of the exhibit, performing with his accordion.  Rolla remained on the stage for the duration of the conference.

"It's very difficult look to [at] something when nothing happens, to quiet your mind for it. Long durational performances are about that. They are about time and just being there. It's about ability to look for something knowing that nothing will happen."

Abramovic started off the lecture by talking about body parts and the importance of artists creating works with a specific body part in mind. Just as her previous lectures in this series investigated performances concentrating on the head and hands, among others, this conference addressed the feet, chest, and eyes.

Video clips exemplified this focus on performance as localized in the body: Pina Bausch’s feet dancing in her signature style; performer Susanne Ohmann running through a forest bare-chested in The Chase; an eye being slit open by a razor blade in Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un Chien Andalou (1929).

"There's a big difference between theater and dance. There's a big difference between dance and performance. But that difference isn't so important when we think of Pina Bausch. She doesn't play emotions, she experiences them."

After examining individual body parts in performance, Abramovic then showed video footage of a young Elvis Presley dancing on German television to introduce the concept of body drama, the power a subject can possess when there is a unity of all body parts, moving in synchrony in this case: 

"That's a term I invented myself: Body Drama. To understand it, let's think of rock stars, their relation with big audiences, hundreds of thousands of people and the energy that comes from the public."

As another example of body drama, she showed a clip of Maria Callas, a name that Abramovic has often mentioned with reverence in lectures and interviews. The renowned opera singer’s allure and magnetism were certainly fed by her audience and the public at large:

"I'm showing Maria Callas not because of her singing. She was this incredible charismatic diva. She'd say: 'when I perform, I let half of my brain loose. And another half is in total control.' That makes a performance good. A mix of strength and fragility."

Abramovic explained that she had personally selected all of the videos screened at the conference, and she chose as her final clip of the evening a scene from the Hollywood classic Sunset Boulevard (1950), directed by Billy Wilder. The film itself is a melodramatic representation of an artist relying on the public to reinforce their creative ability.

While on this topic of how energy generated by an audience can relate to the body of a performer, Abramovic concluded with one very simple sentence:

"The public feeds the artist."

The lecture ended in applause at 10pm BRT.
Check our calendar for dates and times of Marina Abramovic’s remaining four lectures in this series.

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