Part I: The Background
Over the course of her performance art career, Marina Abramović developed a signature method of techniques that would allow her to reach a higher plane of consciousness required for grueling, endurance-based work. She researched various spiritual and cultural realms, oftentimes spending time with people such as the aboriginal tribes of Australia or Chinese Buddhists. Her learning lent Marina a superhuman sensibility that included the ability to sit for hours on end without moving, to conjure laser sharp focus while spending extended periods of time in repetitive action, or to withstand intense self-inflicted pain.
In The Artist is Present, 2013, she employed the culmination of a career’s worth of her method to be able to sit physically present over many days while still intimately connecting with each and every person who came to sit with her. Although she was physically exhausted and mentally depleted by the end of the performance, viewers had no visible hint of her suffering throughout the piece.
Marina coined her practices the Abramović Method, an exploration of being present in both time and space, incorporating exercises that center on breath, motion, stillness and concentration. She has since shared it via workshops with both aspiring artists and non-artists looking to reach a higher plane of existence.
Part II: The Logic of The Method
Abramović has described the steps as follows: For each workshop, I would take between twelve and twenty-five students outdoors, always to a place that was neither too cold nor too hot, never uncomfortable, and, while we fasted for three to five days, drinking only water and herbal teas, and refraining from speaking, we would do various exercises.
- BLINDFOLD: Leave home and go to the forest, where you are blindfolded, then try to find your way back home. Like a blind person, an artist needs to learn to see with his or her whole body.
- LONG WALK IN LANDSCAPE: Start walking from a given point, proceeding in a straight line through the landscape for four hours. Rest, then return along the same route.
- WALKING BACKWARD: Walk backwards for four hours, while holding a mirror in your hand. Observe reality as a reflection.
- FEELING ENERGY: With your eyes closed, extend your hands in front of you toward another participant. Never touching the other person, move you hands around different areas of their body for one hour, feeling their energy.
- SLOW-MOTION EXERCISE: For the entire day, do everything very slowly: walking, drinking water, showering. Peeing in slow motion is very difficult, but try.
Toward Our Center:
Part III: Toward Our Center:
Abramović Discusses Presence and Purpose
Part IV: The Abramović Method in Action
Abramović has held workshops from Athens to Sydney, called Marina Abramović: In Residence where she mentors young artists in an intensive two-week program, which culminates in a group show where the artists use what they learned in the Abramović Method.
Here is Abramović describing her method at the Australian workshop:
The Abramović Method and Lady Gaga, (The Method helped Lady Gaga quit smoking):
A Sample Lesson For You:
By creating her signature method and sharing it with the public, Marina has evolved her work as a performance artist into one of a great teacher. She has spent a career using her body as a medium and now she asks others to consider using theirs to become fully present in their own lives and to embrace the empowerment that results both on an individual level and as part of a connected humanity at large.
Through her MAI Institute, Abramović continues to spread these principles through collaborations with artists and cultural organizations and to groups and individuals looking to benefit personally from her knowledge.