Contemporary Art

Marina Abramović at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Nicole Ganbold 27 May 2024 min Read

This spring, the Stedelijk Museum, one of Amsterdam’s leading art institutions, opened the most extensive retrospective of Marina Ambarović ever in the Netherlands. The solo exhibition, which encompasses the celebrated artist’s entire career, will run from March 16th to July 14th, 2024. This show is distinct because Abramović has a special relationship with the city of Amsterdam, where she lived and worked in the 1970s.

Marina Abramović and Amsterdam

The legendary Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović needs no introduction. Born in 1946 in Belgrade (former Yugoslavia, now Serbia), Abramović has always linked her works to her heritage, which she refers to as not “Serbian” but “ex-Yugoslavian.” However, Amsterdam has also played an important role in Abramović’s life and work.

AdVertisment

In the mid-1970s, Abramović moved to Amsterdam, which welcomed her with a much more relaxed and progressive approach to the arts (especially in the sphere of nudity, as she remarked during the press conference preceding the opening of the show). At the same time, she met Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen, 1943–2020), a German artist with whom she partnered both in life and in their collaborative work, pushing the boundaries of performance art to its limits.

Marina Abramović and the Stedelijk Museum

marina Abramović stedelijk: Installation view: Marina Abramović, video footage and props from Rhythm 0, 1974, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Peter Tijhuis, 2024. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum.

Installation view: Marina Abramović, video footage and props from Rhythm 0, 1974, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Peter Tijhuis, 2024. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum.

The retrospective at Stedelijk Museum covers over 60 works, including archival footage of performances, photos, videos, and sculptures encompassing five decades of Abramović’s prolific career. The museum has dedicated an enormous space to celebrate the artist’s groundbreaking and controversial oeuvre and preserve her legacy for future generations. The problems she faced and tackled are ever-present:

When I was appointed Director, there was no doubt that the Stedelijk should present a survey of Marina Abramović’s oeuvre. She is a pivotal figure in the development of performance art, which found an early home at the Stedelijk, and has numerous connections with Amsterdam. After staging the major retrospective of Ulay’s work in 2020, we proudly opened the museum’s doors to Marina Abramović, who has a long and meaningful relationship with the Stedelijk. Re-enactments of historical performances keep her oeuvre alive – not just for us, but for future generations.

Rein Wolfs, Director of Stedelijk Museum

Museum’s press release.

marina Abramović stedelijk: Installation view: Marina Abramović, Video footage of several performances, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Peter Tijhuis, 2024. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum.

Installation view: Marina Abramović, Video footage of several performances, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Peter Tijhuis, 2024. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum.

marina Abramović stedelijk: Installation view: Marina Abramović, Video footage of The Artist Is Present, 2010, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Peter Tijhuis, 2024. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum.

Installation view: Marina Abramović, Video footage of The Artist Is Present, 2010, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Peter Tijhuis, 2024. Courtesy of Stedelijk Museum.

Re-enacted Performances

This historic retrospective is not only limited to an assemblage of video footage, photographic documentation, and props used in Abramović’s legendary works but also features live performances re-enacted by artists trained at the Marina Abramović Institute. The works performed at Stedelijk are Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful (1975), Imponderabilia (with Ulay) (1977), Luminosity (1997), and The House with the Ocean View (2002).

AdVertisment

Additionally, visitors are invited to participate in two performances: Work Relation (with Ulay) (1978) and Counting the Rice from the Abramović Method.

marina Abramović stedelijk: Live re-enactment: Marina Abramović and Marina Abramović Institute, Counting the Rice, 2015, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Artforum.

Live re-enactment: Marina Abramović and Marina Abramović Institute, Counting the Rice, 2015, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Artforum.

While in Amsterdam, visit this must-see show at the Stedelijk Museum, which runs until July 14, 2024. 

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