Marina Abramovic and the end of art

Marina Abramovic and the end of art

By Ljubodrag Simonovic, Belgrade, Serbia *

Marina Abramovic created a social movement with a sectarian character and became a cult personality. Her followers don’t understand the nature of the world in which they live and in that context the nature of her performances. They have become the object of manipulation, taking advantage of their mental problems and frustrations created by capitalism. The performance is a trap. People are “liberated” by being deprived of critical consciousness and dignity.

Abramovic’s performances have a therapeutic dimension. She addresses people who are chained to a world where they are deprived of love, cultural being and historical self-consciousness. With her sessions, she seeks to open Pandora’s Box of their subconsciousness. What kind of people are those who need to stick their fingers into “artist’s” vagina, or who are thrilled with her masturbatory sessions? What kind of people are those whose emotions aren’t triggered by the butchered child dying on a sidewalk, but by a quartered vagina of a horny “artist”? These are petty bourgeoisie who do not seek to fight for a humane world, but to “satisfy” their perverted personality.

The basic “political” principle that Marina Abramovic is guided by is: “If you change yourself you will change the world”. Instead of facing the world, young people should turn to themselves and “change themselves” in such a way to completely adjust to the ruling order that destroys life and man as a natural and humane being. Abramovic’s performances represent caricature reproduction of the ruling spirit of capitalism, which is of destructive and spectacular nature. They divert critical thought from the sphere of life and mutilate visionary consciousness. Young people should not deal with the social causes that lead to the destruction of the world, but with the consequences. Instead of pointing to the essence of the world and to the tragic nature of human existence, performances sterilize the changing will of young people and create capitalist nobodies out of them.

The essence of Abramovic’s life philosophy, on which her performances are based, is contained in her thought: “It is not scary to jump and take off, you have to jump from the skyscraper and the danger begins when you need to touch the ground”. She doesn’t seek to build critical-changing consciousness in youth, without which there is no future, but such a character that will enable them to survive in capitalist menagerie. What kind of world is that in which a man “has to jump from a skyscraper” and for his life to be reduced to a desperate effort to fly as long as possible – until he smashes into the ground? A man has to adapt to the existing world, which means to be ready to withstand blows that life inevitably inflicts upon him. It is no coincidence that Abramovic’s pedagogy is based on the principle “I teach young people not to be afraid of pain. Not to be afraid of anything and anyone.” Those are, in fact, messages that officers send to soldiers to fanaticize them – before sending them to the front. Fanaticism is one of the most important characteristics of the pathological character which Abramovic insists on. It suggests that in a ruthless capitalist world, young people must arm themselves with fanatical willpower – in order to survive. People are becoming the “cannon fodder” of capitalism.  

It is no accident that torturing one’s own body and enduring pain are the greatest challenges of Abramovic’s pedagogy. Her performances are training for life. It is about creating sadomasochistic character that provides an opportunity to survive in the capitalist world. What gives an “artistic” illusion to the torture of the body is that it has a ritual character. Ultimately, the most important is the political message. Instead of dealing with the ruling order that destroys life on Earth, a man should deal with his own body.

The naked body in Abramovic’s sessions is not the body of a free and dignified man, but objectified and instrumentalized body of a capitalist slave. In contemporary capitalism “sexual freedoms” and aggressive pornography have become one of the most important means for depoliticizing and degenerating people. Through them the authentic erotic and thus playing nature of man is mutilated, which is antropological basis of authentic sociability.  

Abramovic’s performances have subliminal and compensatory nature. She addresses the young people who are deprived of family warmth and parental love.  It is being insisted on “indulging in emotions” and this becomes the way young people should relate to her “art”. Through her sessions, she tries to stir their emotions guided by a Hollywood way degenerated maxim “only love can save the world”. Abramovic sees young people as “her children” and through her sessions “offers them love” that they cannot receive in life. In this way she becomes the Great Mother who provides parental protection to unloved children. 

Abramovic not only counts that young people are deprived of love in capitalism, but also of historical self-awareness. She reduces humanity to sadomasochist character and thus deprives man of the opportunity to become historical, libertarian, social, creative and visionary being. Capitalism destroys the mind and thus the ability to create reasonable response to the increasingly dramatic existential crisis it creates. Without the reasonable relationship to the world, a man cannot comprehend the true nature of the ruling order and acquire appropriate critical consciousness that will direct him to the struggle for the survival of life on Earth and to the creation of a humane world. 

Abramovic argues that art should not be a reflection of the world, but should create an idea of the future. What is it about her “art” that creates the spaces of the future? Are these the scenes and plays that have a “shocking” character? Likewise, are her performances based on the critique of art as a production of the false world that mediates between a man and the real world? In this context, Malevich’s critique of traditional art and his “Black Square” appear. Indeed, Abramovic abolishes art and inserts a performance between a man and the world that deprives him of cultural self-consciousness. In this way, she abolishes man as a historical and visionary being. Without the vision of the future a man is doomed to wander hopelessly in the dark mazes of capitalist nothingness.

The way and the form in which Abramovic’s plays appear are based on exhibitionism and sensationalism. In their essence, they are a commodity in the show-business market. Like any other commodity, it must obey market rules – in order to arouse the interest of potential buyers. Provocation is the most efficient way of getting attention in a market driven by advertising madness. Pornographic exhibitionism is one of the most important ways to “shock” the petty bourgeoisie and to gain “popularity”.

A key moment in Abramovic’s “artistic” career, by her own admission, was the arrival of Lady Gaga, one of the world’s most famous stars of the music show-business, to her performances. Lady Gaga has “drawn” her many “fans” to Abramovic, thus creating a potential market for her “art”. Immediately, galleries and other “art” dealers appeared, and the business started. Abramovic’s “art” became an American brand and became an international trend through an aggressive advertising campaign. 

Abramovic’s popularity has a political character. Her performances not only abolish the emancipatory heritage of civil society and libertarian heritage of national cultures, but impede the youth’s struggle against capitalism – which is ever more dramatically destroying life on Earth. Her “art” is based on the mondialist matrix and is in the realm of new age ideology. As such, it is a first-class export commodity used for the Americanization of the world. Using the iconography of Marina Abramovic it can be said that her withered vagina represents a gate through which one enters the “free world” of American imperialism.

* Lubodrag Simonovic (72) was a member of the Yugoslav national basketball team, which won the world championship in 1970. Several times he played for the national team along with Sergei and Alexander Belov. He was a participant in the Olympic Games in Munich. In protest against the cover-up of a doping scam with Puerto Rico, he left the Games, after which he was expelled from the national team. The author is a Master of Laws and a Doctor of Philosophy. He has published ten books in the fields of philosophy, sociology and historiography. His texts have been translated into English, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Turkish. He taught at domestic and foreign universities. He is married and has three children and six grandchildren. Simonovic lives in Belgrade. 

Translated from Serbian by Vanja Zakanji

United World International

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June 2024