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The Performance as a Metaphor by Marina Abramovic: Part 1


In the first part, the recipient’s impressions about three “Freeing...” performances are described. Besides, the analysis of Marina’s understanding of art is given in the paragraph about performance “Art must be beautiful.” Finally, there are also mentioned intersemiotic parallels between Abramovic’s performance and Edward Munch’s canvas.

The Art of Self-Expression and the Artist's Independence

Arising from the protest against the commerciality of art and the assertion that there is no framework within it, the art of performance from the 1960s and 1970s is echoed with the Dionysian art of Mars from the “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury – that is the output of art beyond the galleries in the form of an action or performance, a struggle with automated perception of reality and routine, an overthrow of socio-political issues. The performance was, by the ideas and concepts implied, also much larger than the three things mentioned; it became the art of self-expression in time and space, where the idea of the essence of a particular idea or problem, or an experiment with the knowledge of themselves and society, grew into an amazing stretch in time and space metaphor. The performances of the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic are the most interesting for a writing analysis.

‘The Art Must Be Beautiful’, Mustn’t It?’


Each Marina's performance is an attempt to cognize the world, the man, the way of thinking through her own body, and, at the same time, to give the audience a glimpse of the truth that is born during the action. In the first performance, "Art must be beautiful," the artist fairly convincingly proved the absurdity of the artistic guideline "to create a beautiful art and to be beautiful", comparing such a method with combing hair, which, as you never try, will still be confused, and the only practical result is the broken teeth on scallops. The fanaticism and repetition of the words "art must be beautiful", "artist must be beautiful", accompanied by intense combing, give the viewer a sense of irony and echo with the mood of the entire twentieth century which reinterprets the concept of beauty as something unimportant in art and replaced with other quality paradigms.

The Voice and the Memory as the Stand-Alone Items

The next two performances "Freeing the voice" and "Freeing the memory", resemble an attempt to nurture the human physical and mental essence – that is, to try to open the human face and its physical and mental capabilities anew. The voice in this context is an exciting ability because the most virtuous merit of it is the quality which physically distinguishes a human from other living beings. The phenomenon of voice as the property of the human body in the performance of "Freeing the voice" echoes with the philosophical and aesthetic concept of existentialism about the autonomy of things. As N. Sarrot or J.-P. Sartre tried to show the individual things of everyday life – the glasses in the bar or the door handle – as alienated ones to the human perception; to make them seem to be stand-alone, deautomatized items of reality, which the characters are trying to cognize without regarding the constant technique adopted by the society. Similarly, Marina tries to feel her voice, her ability to produce it autonomously from the reality.

Edvard Munch and the Performance “Freeing the Voice”: the Outstanding Intermedialism

Boy Shouting

A 40-minute loud cry of a woman with a second interrupted breath transfer has an interesting impact on the viewer of the video. At first, it surprises and generates expectation, when it already stops and something else begins. And though it has some action, in 5 minutes it involuntarily enters a kind of annoying sympathy for the mistress "Why do I torment so vainly? What's the point? ", in 10-15 minutes you fall into a strange eclectic sense of vanity – the awareness of the loneliness and smallness of a person, the loneliness of her voice in a vast world, even if the performer performs with a quadrangular window on YouTube. At this moment, the painting by Edvard Munch “Scream” blows in the memory, it seemed as if "Freeing the voice" was an attempt to implement the artist's expressionist manifesto in time. This was also indicated by the location of the body of Marina in space - static, as if on the canvas, without any movements, except those that produce lungs, breasts, trachea, jaw, and muscles of the face during the process of breathing. Like the overturned picture of Munch, - screaming not in sharp circles, composed of contoured layers of color and coarse brush strokes of oil - but in a very real voice and with the help of real body organs.

The Alienation of The Ability to Remember

The intersemiotic design leads us to one more argument in favor of the fact that the art of performance is still an art – a dialogical, intermedial art with its sensory-experimental and symbolic dimensions, capable of producing reminiscences for artistic creations of previous eras. Speech "Freeing the Memory", in which Marina, for 50 minutes without repeating, names the words that she thinks are likewise an existentialist attempt to alienate his ability to remember in this way, proving the complexity and uniqueness of the man and his outlook. Thus, the complexity of the human inner world "Freeing the memory", where there are thousands of words that give rise to thousands of associations, associative rows, which can coexist as neighbors, - "Kandinsky", "path" and "corruption" - is incredibly accurate and clearly transmitted. As a result of watching this video, even for the first 15 minutes, the recipient is under an impression that before them is not the same person as they, but an alien in whose memory there is a huge amount of words and concepts, associations, representations, histories and historical events, which seem to be inexhaustible.

"Freeing the Body" As an Act of Artist’s Independence

The latest in this tetralogy performance "Freeing the body" is not only a way to visit the artist’s own body and an attempt of the artist to re-learn it without clothes, with the help of movements and space. It is also, in the social aspect, a peculiar manifesto of the emancipation of a living body, which is a complete independent concept in contemporary art and its nudity should be a subject to condemnation within the framework of the artistic idea.

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