Marina Abramovic Performance Art BØWIE Motherhood and Art Women in Art Collective Art Feminism Artistic Career Creativity Genius Myth Charisma Artistic Independence Gender Imbalances Creative Freedom Artistic Collaboration
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Article by:
Chloé Bruère-Dawson, Tessa Roy, Dany Niederhauser
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January 11, 2024
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Marina Abramovic Answers Questions From Artists Of The BØWIE Gallery

As you might remember, we interviewed Marina Abramovic a few weeks ago on the occasion of the showing of Bolero at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, a ballet piece she’s worked on in collaboration with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet almost 10 years ago. But you may also know that here at BØWIE, we collaborate with many artists, and Marina has been an inspiration for many of them. That’s why we decided to have some of them ask a few questions to the one and only Grandmother of Performance Art. 

Chloé Bruère-Dawson: The artist we collaborate with at BØWIE have prepared some questions for you, and one of them, Lyn Bentschik, was actually  a student at your institute. They referred to an interview in which you talked about pregnancy and how having kids means the death of a woman artist’s career. Do you still stand by that?

Marina Abramović: You know, I recently went to see Meryl Streep and her four children, three girls and one boy. If you didn’t know, all her children are actually actresses and actors, just like her.  

I thought to myself “Oh my God, she's happy!” She has all these children, all these Oscars, and she manages to be happy”. So there are some exceptions to the rules I must say [laughs] but generally speaking, from a historical point of view, the woman must be very productive and the loss of exposure from founding a family can be fatal to her career. For instance, Louise Bourgeois had to wait until everybody she loved died or grew up and left home to finally focus on her career.

Also, the question is much bigger than that. Why are there still more men in art than women? I think that we, women, feel really guilty about that. It's not only the men’s fault. If you think back to the fifties, the sixties, you know, the American abstract art scene had such amazing women artists, all the gallerists were women, and all they showed were the men artists. And why?  If I have a gallery, I have the complete right to make my program and to do whatever I want with it! I think there was (and there still is) a lot of competition, jealousy, and complications between women, which is actually so unproductive. 

We also cannot want too much. If you want to have a great relationship, and love, and children, and a family and to be an artist, it’s not possible. You need one energy in your life and that is creative energy you spend on art. In my case, I've been married twice, but I'm totally not marriage material. I'm the worst, I’m never home, always running around. I never wanted this settled life, I wanted to be free. The moment we finish this interview, I want to have the possibility to take my suitcase and go to New Zealand without anyone to bomb me.That freedom is so important to me. And that's probably the actual reason I succeeded. And then in my generation of artists, you have the people that are complaining and don’t believe that they made their own destiny and are now trapped in it. Destiny is something that you create, and then you do whatever you want. Right now I'm really great. I couldn’t have it better than right now.

Chloé Bruère-Dawson: This question is from Catherin Schoeberl, who wonders if you think the idea of The Genius can be left behind by implementing collective forms of working and thinking that predicts everyone's participation in art when you do collective art? What do you think of the idea of the genius ? 

Marina Abramović: It's complicated because as an artist, and especially as a performer, you have to have charisma. This is something you have to be born with, it is incredibly important. Then you can build on that base, and that building process is an enormous amount of work. I met two genius in my life who completely fucked up their life because they didn't do anything with their potential.They just had the feeling that they were great and didn't put any work in it.  
So if you have even an ounce of genius in you, you need to put in this enormous amount of work, you have to invest time and energy into it. You actually have to be sick, have a fever, an addiction to ideas and what you’re going to do with them. That's the only way. I don't do anything but work. I just wake up with ideas of what to do and I make them possible, I make them real, even if I don't think of myself as a genius at all. I’m full of contradictions. But who cares?

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