10 inspirational quotes by Marina Abramovic

Do you know Marina Abramovic?

In short: Marina is a famous performance artist. Performance art is an form of art with 4 elements: time, space, the body and the relation between the creator and the public.

The longer version of the story is that Marina was born in 1946 in Belgrado ( in Serbia, former Yugoslavia) and later moved to Zagreb, Berlin and Amsterdam to become an artist. She became famous in the 70s for creating art that was considered outrageous.

She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of her audience, focusing on pain, blood, and physical limits of the body. Using knives, blood and fire…

Sounds pretty strange, right?

But it’s beautiful. Her art is ruthless. It’s brave. Her art is painful but it’s important. It’ shocking, but most of all it’s fascinating.

Marina Abramovic inspires me to live a fearless life. I stumbled upon her art when I watched the HBO documentary ‘The artist is present’, about her exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During this exhibition Marina did a unique performance. She sat silently on a chair for hours without moving. Visitors got the chance to sit with her. During this unusual ‘experiment’ something wonderful happens: Marina’s calm presence touches many hearts.

Click here to see a video of Marina’s silent and static experiment of  736 hours and 30 minutes. 

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10 inspirational quotes by Marina Abramovic:

On her performance

“The hardest thing is to do something which is close to nothing because it is demanding all of you.”

On being alternative

If you’re alternative when you’re young, when you’re 18, and 19, and 20, and you’re still alternative with 29 and you’re alternative at 30, and you’re alternative at 40, and you’re alternative at 50, but excuse me… I’m 63. I don’t want to be alternative anymore.

On living in the moment

Woody Allen has a wonderful line: ‘Today I’m a star. What will I be tomorrow? A black hole?’ That’s very important to know – that you have the moment, then you lose the moment. You have to see your chances, you have to take them, and you also have to see when you don’t have chances to take.

On her purpose as an artist

My purpose as performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear. The primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, ‘I’m your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.’

On her childhood in Serbia

The brother of my grandfather was the patriarch of the Orthodox Church and revered as a saint. So everything in my childhood is about total sacrifice, whether to religion or to communism. This is what is engraved on me. This is why I have this insane willpower. My body is now beginning to be falling apart, but I will do it to the end. I don’t care. With me it is about whatever it takes.

On her mother

I had a very difficult relationship with my mother. She used to wake me up in the middle of the night if I wasn’t sleeping straight and was messing up the sheets. Now when I stay in hotels I sleep so straight they don’t even think I’ve used the bed.

On making art

For the first three months, I place each student at a table with a thousand pieces of white paper and a trash can underneath. Every day they have to sit at the table for several hours and write ideas. They put the ideas they like on the right side of the table; the ones they don’t like, they put in the trash. But we don’t throw out the trash. After three months, I only take the ideas from the trash can. I don’t even look at the ideas they liked. Because the trash can is a treasure trove of things they’re afraid to do.

On complexity

On one side is this strict orthodox religion, on the other is communism, and I am this little girl pulled between the two. It makes me who I am. It turns me into the kind of person that Freud would have a field day with, for sure.

On growth

From a very early time, I understood that I only learn from things I don’t like. If you do things you like, you just do the same shit. You always fall in love with the wrong guy. Because there’s no change. It’s so easy to do things you like. But then, the thing is, when you’re afraid of something, face it, go for it. You become a better human being.

On art

Once, Picasso was asked what his paintings meant. He said, “Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You don’t. But you listen to them anyway.” So, sometimes with art, it is important just to look.

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