Marina Abramovic, artist and personal development guru

Are you aware of recession? Are you lacking concentration? Marina Abramovic promises to cleanse your soul and make your artistic juices flow like never before.

“Lie down, press your back firmly to the floor, and take a deep breath. Hold your breath as long as you can before exhaling. Repeat twelve times.” Another? “Choose a tree you love. Kiss him. Pray to him. Fifteen minutes”.

Here are two of the thirty exercises in the Marina Abramovic Method, a card game available for a few days. “Instruction Cards for Rebooting Your Life” is a beautiful advertising promise displayed right on the packaging. In short, a kind of search kit for Abramovich, which is dormant in you. Lady Gaga is a fan.

If anyone is qualified to teach us how to overcome mental and physical barriers, it is Marina Abramovic, a conceptual artist who starved herself and stripped naked in public, was not afraid of fire and cold, juggled knives and poisonous snakes, passed more than 2500 kilometers along the Great Wall of China and screamed out of breath.

©Peter Rigaud/laif

Marina Abramović (75) was born in Belgrade, Serbia (in the former Yugoslavia), and is one of the pioneers of performing arts that emerged in the 1970s. She made a name for herself by impressing the public with her body tests, without shaking. Indeed, at his first performance, in 1973 in Edinburgh, the artist played faster and faster at putting a very sharp knife between his fingers, which caused him to bleed profusely.

In her autobiography A Walk Through Walls (2016), she describes how fear and pain vanished from the start of her performance. “I was drunk with overflowing energy. It was then that I realized that I had found my artistic expression. Neither the picture nor the object gave me such a feeling of freedom, a feeling that from that moment on I never stopped. being on the lookout.” So kissing a tree might not be the most extreme advice she can give.

In his first performance in 1973 in Edinburgh, Abramovich plunged a sharp knife between his fingers faster and faster.
© Getty Images

Five Day Seminars

The artist turned art into an endurance sport. In her half-century career, she seeks out the most extreme ways to expand her human capabilities. To do this, she, in particular, explains that she acquired meditative and spiritual techniques, which she called the “Method of Marina Abramovic.”

His method is nothing less than mindfulness in a more artistic form.

This method has been commercially successful. The Marina Abramovic Institute offers five-day workshops that promise an “internal reset”: participants are not allowed to eat, talk, or read for five days, phones and watches are banned, and movement and breathing are taught to “be here.” now” and improve concentration, stamina and attention. For example, participants are asked to walk backwards for four hours holding a mirror “to learn that reality is a reflection.” Another exercise is to do everything in slow motion all day: walk, drink water, take a shower. “Peeing in slow motion is very difficult, but still try,” Abramovich admits.

Those who would not like to live five days of fasting and silence can practice this method by doing simpler daily activities, such as those described in the card game. To try this method, Abramovich has already prepared a digital performance (which can be seen on the WeTransfer website) in which she provides the viewer with a detailed operating manual, focusing on exercises such as drinking water, counting grains. rice, walking in slow motion or looking someone in the eye.

artistic mindfulness

Many of the instructions are related to his famous speeches and relate to silence, attention, patience and endurance. His method is nothing less than mindfulness in a more artistic form.

Marina Abramović states that the “Reset Your Life” card game stems from her need for direct contact with the public, especially since this has not been possible lately. She nevertheless reached the heights of fame thanks to performances in which she invited the public to participate. For example, at first he offered gallery visitors a set of 72 objects that they could use on it at their discretion, including blue paint, a whip, a rose, and a loaded gun.

At MoMa, during The Artist Is Present, she comes face to face with Ulay, her former companion in life and art: a moment of palpable emotional intensity.
© Getty Images

For The Artist in the Presence in 2010, visitors to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City were asked to sit silently in front of her and look into her eyes. A confrontation that turns out to be an intense experience for many of his fans. Tears flow; witnesses say that his gaze and his hypnotic energy put them into a trance. For the three months that her speech lasted, Abramovich sat motionless in a chair at the entrance to the museum six days a week, for a total of more than 700 hours. The performance became his most famous work and made the avant-garde artist a star of mainstream pop music. A video of the German artist Ulay (1943-2020), her former companion, sitting across from her is a hit on YouTube. For 3 minutes and 38 seconds, the camera focuses on their wet eyes. Heartbreaking, in the opinion of his fans, with bristling sentimentality, in the opinion of his detractors.

Take advantage of your fame?

Indeed, not everyone appreciates the way Abramovich presents himself as a master or guru. When British TV channel Sky Arts aired a five-hour documentary about him, British art historian Jonathan Jones wrote in a scathing article: “When did performance become a religion? New Age?

© Victoria Stevens / August Image

The criticism she faces today. A card game, isn’t it a shameless self-brand, light merchandising to exploit its notoriety? “I don’t think I’m going to get rich selling these postcards,” she told The Guardian. “I am an interesting example of how the art business works. I have a huge audience and a large young audience, but my prices are much lower than artists who are only halfway through their careers.”

She says she just wants to inspire people and reach as wide an audience as possible with her wisdom. “The function of an artist is the function of a servant, and I want to pass on my knowledge to you,” it says on the box of the card game.

Another example to make you want to start tomorrow morning? “Get up at 6 am and walk straight, no matter the weather. Be aware of the ground under your feet and ask how your body feels. And do this exercise naked if allowed by law.”

In 2023, Marina Abramovic will be the subject of a major retrospective at the Royal Academy in London. You can go there just to look: participation is not required. Just shut up. And attentive.

“Instructions for Rebooting Your Life”. Marina Abramovich and Katya Tilevich, 19.50 euros. Lawrence King Editions,

The next seminar will take place in Greece. information via Marina Abramovic Institute,

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