The Marina Abramović road show rolled into London town this week in a blaze of glory, drawing huge crowds to the Royal Academy of Arts for her blockbuster show (23 September-1 January 2024). Journalists thronged at the press view, keen to see how the godmother of performance art has “captivated audiences by pushing the limits of her body and mind, for the past 50 years”, said an RA blurb (key works on show include Balkan Baroque (1997), and Rhythm O (1974).
At a packed out press conference, Abramović was in feisty form, declaring how happy she was to see each day anew after suffering a pulmonary embolism. “It is all about having humour in my life,” she said. “My work is so tragic, now it’s going to be fun!” Her recent illness meant no more flights but taking it easy instead on the sumptuous Queen Mary liner which brought the artist and her partner Todd Eckert from New York to London. “It was so Agatha Christie darling!” uttered Abramović who hinted that she may present a performance work in the RA’s sprawling courtyard.
The great and the good also turned up for the exhibition private view which drew dames and dudes from across the art world and beyond such as Oppenheimer actor Cillian Murphy, Tate director Maria Balshaw, artists Tracey Emin and Cornelia Parker plus thespian Russell Tovey. There was (naturally) a long queue to walk through Imponderabilia, the 1977 piece in which a naked couple stand facing each other in a narrow doorway, forcing visitors to squeeze through (“everyone seemed to prefer facing the woman,” quipped an observer in a victory for girl power). Marina meanwhile held court throughout the night in the central rotunda space with Eckert dutifully by her side, surrounded by four huge crosses emblazoned with brilliant images of her grimacing, gesturing, screaming self.