Entries from April 2013 ↓

Conceptual / Minimal

Milani.668

How myths are made: Marina Abramovic remembers Lake Disappointment.

In his cover story for The Weekend Australian Review, Tim Douglas interviews Marina Abramovic in Abu Dhabi. However the account of her experiences in the Australian desert three decades ago leaves a seriously problematic trail for its account of her cross-cultural relationships.  (“Primal Performer: Artist Marina Abramovic was transformed by a desert epiphany.” Weekend Australian Review, March 30-31, 2013, pp. 6-7.) In this promo piece for the upcoming Kaldor project, Douglas gives us the latest version of Abramovic’s story:

Following an appearance at the third Sydney Biennale in 1979, Abramovic and her artistic collaborator and lover Ulay – German artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen – trekked out to  central Australia and requested to meet the indigenous people of Western Australia’s Little Sandy Desert, near Lake Disappointment [according to Douglas’ interview]. That meeting [he relates] would become the best part of a year living with the local Aborigines.  “For me, Aborigines are the most natural human beings: they live not in the past or in the future but in the present. They have a story and a meaning  for everything, “ she says. “In that desert I spent a lot of time just sitting down: meditating, listening to the silence. This is what opened my universe.”

According to Douglas’ interview, it was in the desert that Abramovic had her epiphany:

…what she terms a “non-rational extra sense of perception”. “I walked out of that desert after a year and had this realization that, ‘Wow. I see things differently. I am new.’”

The historical account tells it somewhat differently, as history is wont to do. In The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism (Sydney, 2001), in a chapter devoted to these artists, author Charles Green concludes his description of Ambramovic and Ulay’s experience as a form of contemporary “primitivism.” What follows is how he comes to this conclusion: Continue reading →