This autumn, the Royal Academy will present the first ever UK exhibition spanning performance artist, Marina Abramovic's life’s work. The show, which was originally due to open in September 2020, was first postponed to autumn 2021 due to the pandemic, before being rescheduled again. It will now open 23 September-10 December 2023.
The exhibition will feature more than 50 works including photographs, videos, objects, installations and “re-performances”, where some of Abramovic’s previous performances will be carried out by younger performers.
Image credit: Marina Abramović, ‘Artist Portrait with a Candle (A)’, from the series With Eyes Closed I See Happiness, 2012. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives © Marina Abramović.
If you can't wait until then or want to read up on the artist before you visit the show, take a look at her Memoir, Walk Through Walls which is a terrific read. The book spans five decades of Abramovic's life and takes readers from the artist's upbringing in Belgrade through to the most famous of her recent exhibitions – The Artist Is Present at MoMA in 2010 – in which she herself was the main exhibit.
This is not a book for squeamish: she variously cuts a pentagram into her midriff, lies on ice to the point of passing out, stabs her fingers repeatedly with a knife, runs full tilt into walls, invites an audience to use any of 72 objects (ranging from a feather to a loaded pistol) on her, and sits on a pile of 2,000 maggoty cow bones and scrubs them clean.
Between these stomach-churning descriptions, she also throws into the mix hilarious sexual encounters, famous friends, posing in a swimming costume on a red tractor for Annie Leibovitz, Givenchy throwing a party for her and a few good jokes like “How many performance artists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “I don’t know — I was only there six hours.”
The exhibition runs from 23 September - 10 December 2023 and will be hosted in the Main Galleries, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts, London.