Today a world renown performance artist, Marina Abramovic was just starting her career when she performed her Art must be beautiful, artist must be beautiful peace at Charlottenburg Art Festival in Copenhagen, 1973. Focusing on the elephant in the room of modern art scene of the day: does art need to be beautiful by standards set in saloons frequented by petite bourgeoisie, or does it need to impose criticism on social realities and ignore classical definitions of beauty, Abramovic set a milestone in performance arts and introduced the human body as a legitimate artistic medium.
She didn’t act in vacuum, as the scene was preoccupied by works of conceptual artists who’s understanding of beauty was contrary to set standards, trying to re-evaluate its definition in a work of art. Abramovic’s performance stood out not by the ascertainment that ‘art must be beautful’, but by the second part of the title: ‘artist must be beautiful’, pointing out the fact that she as a woman, one that does art no less, is an intruder in the playground of men. Not just in patriarchal, conservative societies, but in liberal art circles as well.
Abramovic sat there naked, brushing her hair, repeating the line over and over again to the point of physical breakdown. Such radical use of ones body was unheard of in the performance circles, and that performance (among a few others in that period where she used her body) had set a turning point in performance arts, intertwining the artist and her art into one.
Young dancer and artist Ina Sladic will perform the piece for the first time since its original performance in 1975 this Saturday, January 13th, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (MSU), with the original artist’s permission and endorsement from Marina Abramovic Institute. Sladic had already performed some of Abramovic’s pieces at 12 Rooms exhibition, Art Basel and Beyeler fundations tribute dinner to Abramovic.
The new performance and screening of the original one will be held as part of Queer Zagreb off activities (Queer Zagreb is an performance and visual arts festival dedicated to fighting discrimination). It starts at 7pm and is free to attend.
Marina Abramovic’s name is well known to anyone interested in art, but younger generations know her best for her work on Lady Gaga‘s album Artpop and her retrospective exhibition Artist is Present at MoMa in 2010. Part of her performance went viral as artist Ulay, her former lover she hasn’t seen in 30 years, set in front of her unannounced and made her break the performance for a few seconds in one touching and viscerally human moment.