Abramović Assault

This morning a series of articles caught my eye; Marina Abramović, the artist, was attacked outside a gallery.

Abramović was at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, which is hosting a retrospective of her work. She was approached by an amateur artist, who was holding out a painting of Abramović, framed but without glass, which she initially thought was a gift. However, the man then broke the painting over her head, allegedly proclaiming 'Boom' as he did so. It is interesting to note that, if the man was doing this for publicity, only one news outlet that I have seen so far has actually named the attacker. It is also important to state that Abramović was not injured by this attack.

'Project O' at Tate Modern - photographed on a previous visit

There are a couple of remarkable actions which sprang out of this attack: the first is that Abramović asked to meet with, and speak to, the man immediately after his detainment. This shows remarkable empathy and curiosity; and the second interesting report is Abramović's statement that the man told her that he had to attack her 'for his art'.

During the course of the degree we looked at several examples of Abramović's art, and I was especially intrigued by her work with Serbian artist Ulay, which, to my mind, explored notions of interconnectivity and relationships.  Many of Abramović's peers and contemporaries investigated ideas of the body as art, and experimented with bodily limits - including going as far as self-mutilation and injury.

Image Source: dazeddigital.com

However, in each case, the artist was the one to suffer the pain or the discomfort: even when others were involved they were, as far as I am aware, fully cognizant of the risks and dangers, and it was usually still the artist themselves who suffered the outcomes. It seems, according to the New York Times, that this attacker is a repeat offender where art is concerned; defacing other artists' work, and causing trouble at other events.

I am all for pushing the boundaries and expanding our interpretation of what might be considered art, theatre, or culture, but wanton assault with an ersatz claim for artistic integrity is not art, ethical, or interesting. To inflict pain on another body is not art: it is assault. If the 'other' is a willing participant in the action, then this muddies the waters somewhat, but without consent, it is an offence rather than an artistic act.


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