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Marina Abramović: objects, performance, video, sound

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


10 Apr 1998 to 05 Jul 1998

Guest Curator: Chrissie Iles

about the exhibition

One of the key international figures in performance art, this was the first major solo exhibition of the work of Marina Abramović in Australia. It included a selection of sculptures from 1989 to 1998, a sound piece from 1973, a video installation created specifically for the exhibition; and an edition of 12 black and white photographs of solo performances from the early 1970s. A program of videotapes made with Ulay (a German artist with whom she had a 12-year collaboration) during the 1980s was also shown.

Abramović describes her sculptures as ‘transitional objects’. She does not consider them to be complete until the public have physically and mentally engaged with them by standing, sitting or lying in positions according to the artist’s instructions. In Wounded Geode, a long tapered geode was placed lengthwise on a grey metal table. The viewer was instructed to sit on a high metal chair at either end of the table, looking into the hollow amethyst opening, or viewing the form from its narrow closed end.

Rituals and customs from other cultures infuse Abramović’s work. God Punishing consisted of five whips made from Korean virgins’ hair which hung from the wall, behind a row of large crystals. This referred directly to the biblical story of a betrayed king who punished the sea for destroying his boats by ordering it to be whipped. Abramović’s deceptively simple objects function in the same way as her performances: as amplifiers and transformers of physical and emotional knowledge.

This exhibition was organised and toured by the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.