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Kim Tschang-Yeul: Art Without Ego Ocula Conversation Kim Tschang-Yeul: Art Without Ego

Kim Tschang-Yeul turns 90 this December, following an illustrious career that played a crucial role in bringing post-war Korean painting into the modern and contemporary art canon. Long celebrated for pensive depictions of water drops, the esteemed artist uses dual languages of abstraction and hyperrealism to articulate the psychological traumas...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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In a Year of No Future: Cyberpunk at Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun Ocula Report In a Year of No Future: Cyberpunk at Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun 22 Nov 2019 : Emily Verla Bovino for Ocula

In what was reportedly Tokyo's cloudiest summer in over a century this July, Yoshiji Kigami, key animator of the cyberpunk classic Akira (1988), died in an arson attack that killed 35 people at Kyoto Animation. The attacker lit the fire with a lighter after dousing the studio with gasoline. 'They are always stealing', he explained in the belief the...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Marina Abramović

b. 1946, Serbia

Marina Abramović is a New York-based multimedia artist who is hailed alongside Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman and Chris Burden as one of the pioneers of contemporary performance art. She is best known for long-duration performance pieces that often require both mental and physical endurance as well as the power to withstand intense tedium, exhaustion, pain and even the threat of death.

Abramović's abusive upbringing deeply impacted her work. She was raised in the capital of Yugoslavia (now Serbia) by parents loyal to the post-war communist regime. Her mother ran the household with harsh military discipline. These unpleasant origins were re-lived by the artist in 2011 through the autobiographical play, The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, directed by Robert Wilson. Abramović spent years addressing the repression present in her upbringing and country of birth in visceral performances. In Thomas Lips (1975) she carved a five-pointed Communist star into her abdomen. Although such performances have been called masochistic, Abramović sees pain and privation as a door to the subconscious mind. From her perspective, the only way to have control over pain or tedium is to focus on and endure the experience.

These ideas were present from the beginning of her artistic career in the early 1970s. Following her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade and a brief experimentation with sound installation, she produced her 'Rhythm' series (1973–74): five different performances involving risk and pain interlaced with symbolic meanings. In 1974, for Rhythm 0—the final work in this series—Abramović carried out an experiment at a gallery in Naples. In this performance, she laid out 72 items on a table with an invitation to the public to use them on her as they wished. There were harmless items such as a grape, a feather, a rose; however, there were also items of a more sinister nature, such as knives, a whip, scissors, a gun and a single bullet. Over six hours the artist revealed the savagery lurking beneath the surface of seemingly civilised human beings while remaining totally passive and vulnerable. Visitors slowly began subtly torturing her: stripping away her clothes, cutting her body and even pointing the gun at her head.

From 1976 Abramović began collaborating with her then-partner, the artist known as Ulay. For five years, they toured Europe together, living out of a van. The pair terminated their relationship in 1988, grandly marking the occasion with The Lovers. In this lengthy performance, the former couple walked towards each other from the two ends of the Great Wall of China, each covering 2,500km over several months and finally meeting in the middle to say goodbye. Her works following the break-up—such as Cleaning the Mirror (1995), Balkan Baroque (1997) and The House with the Ocean View (2002)—were, though not without privation, more contemplative and less violent.

In her Seven Easy Pieces show at the Guggenheim, New York, in 2005, Abramović took an approach closer to an art-historical retrospective. As well as re-enacting Thomas Lips, for seven hours on seven nights she reenacted five works by performance artists Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, Valie Export, Gina Pane and Joseph Beuys.

At a major retrospective of her own work at The Museum of Modern Art in 2010 Abramović presented a new performance, The Artist is Present. Eight hours a day for nearly three months, she sat impassively in the gallery while visitors came one by one to sit opposite her. The reactions ranged from tears to laughter (and one incident of unauthorised nudity). She broke protocol only once, when Ulay made a surprise appearance, by reaching out to grasp his hand. In contrast to the Rhythm 0 experiment the interactions were mostly based on love and brought out the best in people.

Marina Abramović: In Residence (2015), for Kaldor Public Art Project 30, was a paradigm-shift that placed the onus of performance on the public rather than Abramović herself. In the 12 days onsite at Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, Sydney, visitors were guided through focus-shifting, perception-challenging experiences based on the 'Abramović Method': a process pioneered by the artist and intended to use slow and conscious movement to heighten people's mindfulness of the moment they are in and the actions they perform.

Alongside these often controversial performances, sound, video, sculpture, installation and photography have also been important aspects of Abramović's work. Video and photographic stills often document or reference her performances. She has also used these media on their own, as in the independent photographic series, 'Places of Power' (2012–2013), which draws connections between her art and spirituality. Her sculpture addresses pain, the body and other themes from her performances and photography. The artist's body will always be the primary medium of Abramović's practice. As the self-proclaimed 'grandmother' of performance art, she has striven to sustain it by founding the non-profit Marina Abramović Institute in Hudson, New York, in 2012.

Biography by Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Freeing the Voice, 1975 by Marina Abramović contemporary artwork
Marina AbramovićFreeing the Voice, 1975, 2014 Assemblage of 4 black and white silver gelatin prints; based on the 3 hour original performance at the Student Cultural Center, Belgrade in 1975
210 x 75.8 x 5.8 cm
Lisson Gallery
Eclipse by Marina Abramović contemporary artwork
Marina AbramovićEclipse, 2018 Alabaster, LED lights
72 x 85.5 x 8.5 cm
Lisson Gallery
Artist Portrait with a Candle (C) by Marina Abramović contemporary artwork
Marina AbramovićArtist Portrait with a Candle (C), 2013 Fine art pigment print
160 x 160 cm
Lisson Gallery
The Kitchen IV by Marina Abramović contemporary artwork
Marina AbramovićThe Kitchen IV, 2009 Colour chromogenic print
100 x 90 cm
Lisson Gallery
The Cleaner by Marina Abramović contemporary artwork
Marina AbramovićThe Cleaner, 2017 Fine art pigment print
100 x 100 cm
Galerie Krinzinger

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, To a passer-by at Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna
11 September–12 October 2019 Group Exhibition To a passer-by Galerie Krinzinger
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Love is Metaphysical Gravity at Lisson Gallery, Shanghai
22 March–11 May 2019 Group Exhibition Love is Metaphysical Gravity Lisson Gallery, Shanghai
Contemporary art exhibition, Marina Abramović, Early Works at Sean Kelly, New York
10 February–17 March 2018 Marina Abramović Early Works Sean Kelly, New York

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

RoseLee Goldberg: Performance Then and Now Ocula Conversation RoseLee Goldberg: Performance Then and Now

RoseLee Goldberg had long been invested in contemporary performance art before her founding of the inter-disciplinary arts organisation Performa in New York in 2004. Born in Durban, South Africa, Goldberg studied political science and fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and then art history at the Courtauld Institute...

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In Related Press

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Rising Tides and Climate Change Color the Venice Biennale This Year Related Press Rising Tides and Climate Change Color the Venice Biennale This Year Hyperallergic : 24 June 2019

VENICE, Italy — Acqua alta: high water. It's something Venetians have learned to live with, when the city floods under high tides and strong winds. It mainly happens in the winter, but even under the mild May sunshine, the crowds sipping coffee in Saint Mark's Square will sometimes get their feet wet. At these times, the lines between lagoon,...

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Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios Related Press Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios The Vinyl Factory : 8 September 2017

This October, Store Studios will host Everything At Once, an extensive off-site exhibition featuring 24 artists currently shown at Lisson Gallery in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

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Inside the mind of Marina Abramović Related Press Inside the mind of Marina Abramović Apollo Magazine : 17 February 2017

At an Austrian gallery in 1975, Marina Abramović staged the performance Thomas Lips, in which she cut a five-pointed star into her stomach using a razor blade. According to Abramović: 'The pain was like a wall I had walked through and come out the other side.' The artist's capacity to overcome limits, be they physical or psychological, is at the...

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Marina Abramović's Grueling, Hardcore Journey to Brazil Related Press Marina Abramović's Grueling, Hardcore Journey to Brazil The Creators Project : 15 December 2016

Physical pain doesn't intimidate the inimitable Marina Abramović, but spiritual agony is another matter. In 2012, the artist traveled to Brazil in search of a salve for her 'emotional and personal troubles.' The resulting quest for healing and artistic inspiration is chronicled in a stunning new documentary, Marina Abramović in Brazil: The Space In...

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