Putting the “Cult” Back in Culture: Power and Performance in Marina Abramović’s New World Order

passenger Art

abramonatoUnpopular as this opinion may be, we have been little impressed by the recent activities and incarnations of Marina Abramović, the much-acclaimed “Grandmother of Performance Art.” Of course, as feminists, artists and art historians, we both have the utmost respect for the work she produced in the 1960s and 70s and her unflinching interrogation of the social, sexual and market conditions governing bodies in the western world. Those profoundly personal, visceral, and often violent performances initiated important debates about art, interaction and sexual politics that remain relevant to this day. But the political potency of that body of work and everything it altered or inspired, has felt nothing if not undermined by the aggressive manufacturing and marketing of “Marina” as an icon, an idol, a brand. Over the past decade, her unapologetic vanity, over-sexualized identity and Napoleonic narcissism—so fundamentally at odds with her earlier bearing of the body’s most base…

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