Marina Abramovic

Born in 1946 in Belgrade (ex-YU)
Lives and works in NY (US)

Thomas Lips (The Star)

Video, colour, sound
Durée : 1'13''
Year of Purchase: 1999

It was in the communist Yugoslavia of the 1970s that Marina Abramovic embarked on her spectacular body-art work, notably involving pushing her body to its limits by putting it through various physical and psychological ordeals. In her numerous performances she builds up a generous and moving typology of the possible ways of acting out danger (sometimes with her ex-partner Ulay), statements in action of all kinds of concerns relating to the contemporary subject, in our capacity to rebel against an alienating social, political or sexual situation. In so doing, the stakes and forms of her work constantly toy with fundamental ambiguities such as immanence and transcendence, rationalism and esotericism, nature and culture, physics and metaphysics. In Rhythm 10, for example, in a reworking of an eponymous performance of 1973, Abramovi? plays at stabbing a knife faster and faster between her fingers.
This is a morbidly regressive game, but most of all an emblematic representation of a humanity that is at once its own executioner and victim. A schizophrenic tension here exacerbated by the obsessive punctuation to the sound of the blade thudding into the wood, breaking the silence of the shared concentration and suspense. In Thomas Lips (The Star), taken from a 1975 performance, the artist draws a star on her stomach with a razor-blade, gesture of primal expressivity with political and shamanic overtones. A basic, literally ‘bloody’, line drawing.
The body – the final frontier of individual dispossession – is here the territory of an ultimate inscription paradoxically referring back to the beginnings of writings, and hence of art. Through the powerful leverage of dramatic effect, the strict economy of these radical gestures is a striking test of the limits of language, but also our responsibility in the way we passively look on as violence occurs.

Guillaume Désanges