Marina Abramović: “I think about dying every day” | Art and design


I will be 75 in November. My grandmother, who lived to be 103, told me that 70 is when life starts to get really interesting. You are free to do whatever you want, you have all the wisdom to do it. What sucks is if you are sick; but if you are healthy life at this point is incredibly good.

i think about dying each day. It is only when you think about dying that you get the most out of your life. It means you can’t do bullshit; everything that isn’t important goes away, and you know death can come anytime, anytime – you’re in the last act. You have to think about what you are going to leave to society: as an artist, you have this obligation. Because if you have a gift, you have to handle it with care. The gift is not given to you personally, it is given to you to give to society. You have to think carefully about how you are going to leave meaningful work behind.

The inheritance is very important. If I die this minute, what will I have left behind? One thing I’ve been responsible for is bringing performance art into the mainstream, because there was no one in this territory before. The art of performance was ridiculed, it was not considered art at all. It took my whole life, 50 years of my career, but now it’s part of the life of the museum, of the culture, of the collections.

For a lot of art you have to understand it intellectually – you have to read a lot of texts, that’s the key. But it’s not like that with my art. Mine is purely emotional: it hits you in the stomach. This kind of art belongs to everyone; you don’t need any prior knowledge.

I was with Ulay [fellow performance artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen] for 12 years. he was the love of my life. And then he chased me. It was terrible – I lost on all points. I was incredibly angry. But one day I opened my eyes and said, “OK, I lost. What next? “And what was next was forgiveness. He passed away in 2020 and we had this wonderful last year of his life when we became friends. It was an incredibly rewarding feeling, because anger is toxic, no only for the other person, but also for yourself.Now I remember Ulay fondly.

I never wanted children. You have an energy in your body and as your energy is split between being an artist and being a mother, either one suffers. All my friends made me godmother to their children, and it’s wonderful – and also, all my students are my children. And I’m really proud of all of them.

Sex is very important tome. It always has been. Many people think that after menopause, women give up the idea of ​​sex. For me, sex since then has been better, because you don’t have to worry about pregnancy. At the moment I have a boyfriend who is 21 years younger. It’s good! I have no problem being very sexually active. It makes me happy. I see sex as a necessary balance with good food, humor, the zest for life.

I lived with my grandmother until I was six, and she was the center of my world. My parents were Communists, but my grandmother hated Communists. She was highly spiritual – in the morning she would light a candle and pray. There was a feeling of peace and quiet and it stuck with me for a long time. But of my mother and my father, I have everything to do with the will and the courage and the idea that your life is not important, what matters is the cause for which your life is there, its goal. This combination of spirituality and communism is what made me.

Humble Works: artists and friends Marina Abramović, Nico Vascellari and Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich in conversation with Masterworks from Ancient to Modern is at Colnaghi, London, until 22 November

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