The Artist Was Here

Abramovic_Performance5_Photo_Scott_Rudd.jpeg In the Economist:

“I HATE studio. For me, studio is a trap to overproduce and repeat yourself. It is a habit that leads to art pollution,” says Marina Abramovic, America’s most famous performance artist. She is in her kitchen, which occupies one prong of a star-shaped house with walls that are full of windows but free of art. “Nothing new happens. You don’t surprise yourself. You don’t put yourself in situations to risk,” she adds in a rapid, whispering monotone with a Serbian accent. The artist was born in Belgrade and lived all over the world before settling in Manhattan and then Maldon Bridge, New York.

Ms Abramovic’s milestone performance, “The Artist is Present”, had her sitting silently all day, every day from mid-March to the end of May in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. To preserve her energy for the marathon of one-on-one encounters with members of the public, she rarely spoke to anyone after hours other than museum staff. Now that the speechless blockbuster is over, Ms Abramovic seems to find particular joy in talking, with no diminution of her powerful presence.

“Ideas can come anytime, anywhere, while I am making this gazpacho or going to the bathroom,” she says as she chops tomatoes from her garden. “I am only interested in the ideas that become obsessive and make me feel uneasy. The ideas that I’m afraid of.”