Initially realised in 1972 at The Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade, White Space was a room lined with white paper containing a tape recording of Marina Abramović repeatedly saying the words “l love you”. This work has never been recreated, until now, as it forms the centrepiece of a display of rare, historic Abramović works.
The second of the exhibition’s audio works, The Tree (1971), can be heard outside of the gallery in its central courtyard. Here a cacophony of artificially amplified birdsong blares from several speakers, the insistent recording part of Abramović`s works which are concerned with Josip Broz bTito, Yugoslavia`s revolutionary socialist leader – here taking inspiration from his recorded pronouncements, broadcast to the masses.
Examining Abramović`s longstanding relationship with performance is a newly re-mastered film version of Rhythm 5 (1974), part of an early series of performances whereby the artist placed herself in a variety of potentially life-threatening situations: offering herself to the audience as an object of experimentation; ingesting drugs that induced catatonic or aggressive states; and repeatedly stabbing a knife into the spaces between her fingers. Rhythm 5 sees the artist lying on the floor, in the middle of a burning five-point star, until she loses consciousness and is rescued by concerned onlookers.
Sometimes dangerously so, Marina Abramović has pioneered performance as a visual art form throughout her career. These early Rhythm performances pushed the boundaries of self- discovery, marked her first engagements with heightened consciousness and focused upon the body – which has remained both her subject and medium.
Including two formative sound pieces, previously unseen video documentation of seminal performances and a number of photographs and works on paper, the majority of White Space has never been exhibited before. All dating from 1971-1981, it reveals the artist’s first forays into what became a life-long relationship with a performance-based practice dealing with time and the immaterial.
Marina Abramović: White Space 16 September – 1 November 2014 27 Bell Street, London, NW1 5DA www.lissongallery.com
1. Marina Abramović The Kitchen IV, 2009From the Series: The Kitchen, Homage to Saint Therese Color Chromogenic Print 136 x 126 cm
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