As part of a performance piece in the early ’70s, Yugoslavian-born Marina Abramovic lied in the outline of a burning star until she lost consciousness.
Abramovic’s Museum of Modern Art 2010 exhibition “The Artist is Present” had her spending three months in the museum. She sat in a chair with an empty one across from her, which was open to any attendee to sit and stare back at her for as long as they wished.
Abramovic’s revolutionary work has continued to influence both the art world and the mainstream world in general.
For USC artists and art lovers, simply creating or looking at a two-dimensional piece is sometimes not enough. This is where performance art comes in. And although performance art started back in the 1960s and 1970s, its presence is still felt and its history is still important to young artists today.
In this canvas-less medium, artists create a performance that challenges onlookers to interact with them.
The idea of going to a museum to look at art might seem stifling and intimidating, but artists can break through this preconception with performance art. One of the best-known performance art pieces is Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece,” in which she allowed audience members to come up to her and cut away at her clothes. Performance artists are unique in that they willingly take the risk of exposing themselves to audiences.
A momentous figure in that vein, Abramovic has broken boundaries and made it easier for new artists today to push their ideas to new heights. Her work over the decades has shown that this medium can reach out to different generations and still continue to challenge and shock viewers.
And now, Abramovic wants to leave behind a lasting impression on the art world by creating a new center in Montenegro that gives artists a space to create and showcase their own performance art.
The building is yet another one of Abramovic’s attempts to make performance art accessible and exciting to both new artists and art lovers. Even though the new center will give artists a new resource, it is, in reality, less likely to have a huge effect compared to what other similar artists have already created.
Most students at Roski will probably attest that their work is a product of their own thinking and not so much a communal product. And though a space is beneficial to any budding artist, Abramovic and her contemporaries’ past performances are what really serve as inspiration for the next great ideas.
Abramovic is aware of this, stating, “When you die, the only thing you can leave behind is a good idea.” If this rings true, a distinct place to have performance art is not necessary because Abramovic’s works themselves will spark ideas that will lead to great pieces.
Even if you haven’t heard of her before, Abramovic’s work has made it possible for everyone from famous to up-and-coming artists to go beyond conventional art. Performance art can serve as inspiration for a variety of arts, from theater to music. For any musician, artist or actor, it is essential to create something that will garner attention and keep the audience intrigued and captivated.
Though Abramovic’s plans for the new space give a huge nod of encouragement to new artists, the true inspiration lies in her work. Whether you are a serious art student or a reluctant art lover, Abramovic’s daring works showcase an attitude that goes beyond any specific location. Just looking back on her works and those of others similar to her can create inspiration for any artist, regardless of his or her craft.
Eva Recinos is a junior majoring in English (creative writing). Her column “Art Box” runs Thursdays.