Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

Installation view of Marina Abramović’s _Balkan Baroque,_ The Museum of Modern Art, 2010. Photo by Jason Mandella. _Balkan Baroque_ was originally performed in 1997 for four days, six hours each day at the 47th Venice Biennale. Three-channel video (color, sound), copper sinks and tub filled with black water, bucket, soap, metal brush, dress stained with blood. 24:47 min. © 2010 Marina Abramović. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Marina Abramović. Balkan Baroque. 1997

(Yugoslav, born 1946) Three-channel video (color, sound), cow bones, copper sinks and tub filled with black water, bucket, soap, metal brush, dress stained with blood
24:47 min.
Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery

MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ: When the war start in Bosnia, it was so difficult time for me. I was not there. I was living since long time outside of the country. And I remember so many artists immediately react and make the work and protests on the horrors of that war. And I remember that I could not do anything. It was too close to me.

I went to Belgrade, and I interview my mother, my father, and a man who catch rats for 35 years of his life.

There is a few things happening in this installation. It’s positioned so the hands of my father, my father with a pistol, my mother first showing empty hands and then with crossed hands on her eyes. And then it’s me first as a doctor, telling the story of the rat-catcher, and then as a sexy dancer, dancing to the Hungarian Czardas. And in the meantime there’s a huge pile of bones, which during the entire performance I’m sitting and washing. It was summer in Venice, very, very hot and after a few days already worms start coming out of the bones. And the smell was unbearable.

The whole idea that by washing bones and trying to scrub the blood, is impossible.You can’t wash the blood from your hands as you can’t wash the shame from the war. But also it was important to transcend it, that can be used, this image, for any war, anywhere in the world. So to become from personal there can be universal.

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