London – Marina Abramović: “White Space” at Lisson Gallery, through November 1st 2014

October 31st, 2014

Marina Abramović, Tree (1972), all images courtesy Lisson Gallery
Marina Abramović, Tree (1972), all images courtesy Lisson Gallery

On view at Lisson Gallery in London is a exhibition entitled White Space from Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović, featuring many works which have never been exhibited before, including two important sound pieces and unseen video documentation of seminal performances. The exhibition will remain on view through November 1st.

Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)
Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)

Abramović has been active for more than three decades as an artist, exploring a performance-based practice that deals with “time and the immaterial” as central themes. Her work White Space was originally a room lined with paper, containing a tape recording of Abramović’s voice repeating “I love you,” and which was displayed initially at The Student Cultural Centre in Belgrade in 1972. This work is being recreated for the first time since this initial installation, forming the centerpiece around which other rare, formative works from the artist can be explored and experienced.

Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)
Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)

Several newly discovered photographs dating from 1971-1975 reveal moments from Abramović’s earliest performance pieces, while another audio work entitled The Tree (1971) can be heard just outside the gallery in its central courtyard. The sound of birds chirping is overamplified through blaring speakers, as an ironic statement about Josip Broz “Tito,” who was Yugoslavia’s revolutionary socialist leader whom Abramović’s parent’s eventually served under.

Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)
Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)

Freeing the Horizon (1973) is a series of 28 photographs of the Belgrade skyline, from which Abramović has manually “whited out” important buildings with white correction fluid. Coincidentally, many of the erased buildings actually went on to be obliterated by the NATO bombings of 1999 during the Kosovo War, making her works a strangely prescient act of historical revision.  Nearby, Freeing the Memory (1975), a film projection with sound, sees Abramović attempting to recall every Serbian word she can in a continuous stream for over an hour. Freeing the Voice (1975) involves her screaming at full volume until she loses her voice.

Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)
Marina Abramović, White Space (Installation View)

Additionally, a previously unseen version of Rhythm 5 (1974) will be on display, a film of a performance in which Abramović is filmed by her brother, Velmir, while she lies in the middle of a burning five-point star on the ground. This star is the symbol of the Yugoslav Partisans, and the artist lies at its center until she loses consciousness from lack of oxygen, forcing the audience to rescue her.

 

Marina Abramović, White Space (1972)
Marina Abramović, White Space (1972)

Given the string of blockbuster performances Abramović has presented this year in New York and London, her Lisson exhibition is a fitting counterpoint, exploring a notably more sited, politically specific artist who sought the use of her body as a powerful social agent.

The exhibition White Space at Lisson Gallery in London will remain on view through November 1, 2014.

— E. Baker

Related Links
Exhibition Page [Lisson Gallery]