Book Review «Walk Through Walls – Marina Abramović»

Marina Abramović writes in her book «Walk Through Walls: A Memoir» with detachment about her own life.

The book has the transparency of a showcase, in which the well-known artist exposes her being, as she did in performing arts.

Absolute sincerity towards her and others does not make her vulnerable, but gives her strength.

The pages of the book have humor, a natural tone, being the sectional image of an existence that explores overcoming limits without being artificial.

There is a chapter in the book that refers to the 2010 experiment at MoMA, New York, The Artist is Present, when over 750,000 people came to meet her and participate in a unique art event, which took place during 700 hours.

Among those who sat in a chair in front of Marina Abramović, respecting the conventions of nonverbal communication, was Ulay, the man with whom she had been on stage and alive for more than 12 years.

They hadn’t seen each other since their breakup as unusual as their artistic experiments.

They just couldn’t get divorced.

They crossed the Great Wall of China in opposite directions, in another project that blends art with life to meet for what should have been one last hug.

The MoMA sequence reads: «I knew he would be there. He was my guest of honor. But I never thought he would sit in front of me.
The moment was shocking. I spent 12 years of my life in an instant. To me, he meant more than just a visitor. It was the only moment I broke the rules. I covered his hands with my palms, looked into each other’s eyes, and before I knew it, I saw that we were both crying. «

During the 736 hours of the experiment, the photographer Mario Aneli, captured the faces, generally full of suffering, of over 1500 people, publishing these photos in a book.

There were people who returned to that chair, repeating the experience dozens of times.

Between those who stood face to face without speaking a word, without touching each other, definitive bonds had been created.

The artist assumed that this had happened because she herself had become a kind of mirror, in which she found herself as she is, without artifice, without hypocrisy.

People needed to discover their emotions in front of a stranger’s face.

For those hours spent in a chair without arms, Marina Abramović prepares intensely, takes nutrition classes and follows a strict diet through which she tries to get her body used to a certain program.

The physical effort is immense – she feels pain in her spine, her hands and legs are almost paralyzed.

With all her physical suffering, she goes on, feeling that she has the chance to experience a special experience, through which she takes over and confuses with the energy of those around her.

«In The Artist is Present the relationship was one-on-one. For every man who sat before me. I became extremely receptive. The smell sharpened a lot. I felt I understood the mental state in which Van Gough created. The state in which he painted the light of the air. I felt the same small particles of energy rendered by him around every person in front of me. I understood an extraordinary thing very early on: each person sitting in front of me leaves a specific energy footprint. People were leaving, energy was remaining. «

Beyond this memorable MoMA meeting, The Artist is Present, the celebration of 50 years of performing arts, Marina Abramović’s book is a call to simplicity and sincerity.

Complexes, frustrations, eccentricity, the reaction of revolution against aggression, the temptation to break the rules – all come in childhood, mainly due to the harmful influence of the mother.

Her parents› divorce throws the teen into a depressed state.

Marina has an acceptable relationship with her father. He encouraged her to take painting lessons and later enroll in the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts.

The relationship with the mother is really toxic.

It is her mother who administers the punishments such as the blows that are hard to justify, that leave traces, bruises that are impossible to hide under the foundation and the nosebleeds.

The end of the book summarizes the artist’s belief that is sometimes respected but most of the time remained in the aspiration stage.

Marina Abramović shows that there is a constant struggle for the artist’s integrity, because her personal life tends to lose its importance, given that any artist «must» or «should not» walk symbolically, without hesitation and without loss of self, along an imaginary Chinese wall.





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