On the 8th of December, Marina Abramovic (1946) received the “Lorenzo il Magnifico” prize at the Florence International Biennale of Contemporary Art.
During the ceremony, the famous Jugoslavian performative artist held a conference – debat with the present audience about her career and her future plans (in 2012 she’s opening the “Marina Abramovic Institute”, focused on the art of performance) and read what she presented as her Manifesto (recalling how all main art movements from the XX century had had theirs and expressing the urge for a new one in current times): as you might not expect this is not a technical document about performance (the kind of art she masters) but rather a Decalogue about what an artist’s conduct of life is supposed to be.
She explained it was composed by roughly writing down everything coming out directly from her heart, basically with no rational brakes to the flow of thoughts and feelings.
The structure is built upon different focal points – probing different aspects of an artist’s life – faced one by one in different paragraphs, all ending with an obsessive three-lined refrain.
Some of the themes can be considered traditional, such as the importance given to a deep self-exploration – the key to bring to life universal artworks along with the line “artist is Universe”; or the quite sensible yet obvious statement “an artist should not kill another human being” – probably strictly connected to her historical background, Jugoslavia; again the suggested attitude about self-control, mandatory with the artworks and almost forbidden in private life.
On the other hand, new fundamental issues were introduced to those more common elements, adding unusual possible readings of the contemporary art scenario.
First of all, she spoke about suffering.
Suffering and its psychological implications are considered the main engine of the artistical process. An artist is supposed to suffer in order to create the best works and reach the necessary changes to evolve oneself.
But this is history, we all kind of know.
The further step Abramovic took, debating this point, is the distinction she marked with mental illnesses such as depression, strictly considered as an obstacle to artistic production itself.
She firmly stated how depression is a clinical disease and must be medically cured and treated . Depression has nothing to do with the art world and, along with that, an artist cannot be affected by it, while intended to create art pieces.
From here, the dissertation flows to the theme of suicide, openly mentioned and condemned:
“An artist should not commit suicide
An artist should not commit suicide
An artist should not commit suicide”
This is the obsessive refrain at the end of the paragraph opened with the line: “Suicide is a crime against life” .
Her takes on Death are carried on in the last parts of the Manifesto: she explains that an artist must earn the necessary awareness of his/her own mortality and let it lead him/her to a serene departing from this world. Leaving detailed instructions, an artist is also supposed to precisely organize his/her own funeral in advance, as the last art piece before one leaves, she says.
Other interesting personal contributes were about love-life (answering to some questions from the audience she explained how, after having experienced two 12 year-long love relationships with other artists, she got to her statement “an artist should not fall in love with another artist”)and the close connection between art and eros, since sexual impulses are the most genuine, natural and powerful energies animating life.
More like a personal, intimate and volontary confession rather than an artistic statement , the reading of this Manifesto confirmed the charismatic role Abramovic still embodies in contemporary art world, the voice of a woman who is not afraid to speak out.
Author: Cristiana Bedei
Photo: via re-title.com