Marina Abramovic, self-proclaimed grandmother of performance and one of the most famous modern art personas, turned 70 (you can’t say it by just looking at her) in October – and celebrated it in a very specific, her own way. 


Decades of emotions

If you heard about performance, you hear about her. If you know something about modern art, you know about her. Marina Abramovic is an icon. Period. The answer to all possible “whys” is simple – her performance is groundbreaking. She uses her own body as a medium and challenges the boundaries between artist and audience, creates a connection. During her performances she has been cut and burned and even nearly shot while encouraging the audience to do that they wish to her (check her well-known Rhythm 0). “Nothing happens if you always do things the same way,” she says. “My method is to do things I’m afraid of, the things I don’t know, to go to territory that nobody’s ever been.”  She brushed her hair until her head bleed in Art Must Be Beautiful. She made a performance out of her long-term relationship with German artist Ulay (AAA AAA, The Other: Rest Energy, The Lovers), she managed to turn whole staring-at-another-person-while-sitting-still thing into a work of art with her The Artist Is Present – no wonder Abramovic’s 70th birthday was a performance too.

Marina Abramovic Turns 70 Marina Abramovic Turns 70 Marina Abramovic Turns 70


Golden lips and silence

Celebration took place in Guggenheim museum, with both friends and enemies invited. Guests received an instruction which informed them that they have to remain silent for 70 minutes and “refrain from verbal communication”. Necessary accessories provided: noise cancelling headphones and Golden Leaf  lip coverage. Abramovic advised her guests to concentrate on their heartbeats. After the gong, the celebration stopped being silent with birthday girl’s speech (“At 70, you realize you have two choices: You can make age your enemy, or you can make it your friend. I have decided to make my age my friend.”) and British artist and singer ANOHNI’s version of funeral-favorite My Way. Marina Abramovic actually did everything her way again, and it’s hard to argue with that. To keep the spirit of this artsy celebration, guests were given chocolate in the shape of artist’s lips – in golden package, of course.

Marina Abramovic Turns 70 Marina Abramovic Turns 70


Final performance

70th birthday only proves that all Abramovic’s life is one great performance – so why not make another one from inevitable death? Grandmother of performance is already prepared for that. Three Marinas are to be buried, in Belgrade, Amsterdam and New York, the most important cities for the artist. Three bodies (one is real, two are fake) to represent three crucial parts of Abramovic nature – courage, spirituality and nonsense.  Her grandmother (who lived to age 103) taught her to be prepared for the death, and Abramovic started thinking about her final performance in 2004, when Susan Sontag (who was her friend) died. “We all have the same thing: We are afraid of mortality, afraid of pain, afraid of suffering. Three things. Everything about our culture is based on dealing with this in different ways.”

Marina Abramovic concerned about her age, she says that “Seventy is a big number. You know that you’re going to the last part of your life and that you have to concentrate on the most important things.” Her already controversial autobiography, Walk Trough Walls was bron out of this awareness. THe book not only offers insight to her lifework, but begins in early childhood and explores the most romantic moments of artist’s life. “I am very much for the great Slavic suffering, for the cosmos, for the soul, for the universe,” she comments.

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