• Marina

Walk Through Walls

I read Marina Abramovich's book "Walk Through Walls". The book drew me in instantly and I devoured it in three days. Now I understanding her work more clearly which is largely autobiographical and reflects her personal history. Here are new facts unknown to me:

1. Despite poor post-war life in Belgrade, Marina's family were very rich: Their home had 8 rooms, servants including a cook, paintings that adorned the walls, personal tuition in languages and cultural executions to the theater and opera. She describes the position of her family as “red bourgeoisie”.

2. Her family was toxic and sometimes painfully reminiscent of my own (differences in scale notwithstanding, as we had one room in a communal apartment for five families). As I read the event it triggered memories and a painful flashback. For example, she describes how her father threw her from a boat and began to sail away, leaving her to sink or swim. My father taught me how to swim in this same unforgiving manner! Harsh Slavic traditions are alive. However, despite such experiences, she draws a positive conclusion: “I always thought the more fucked-up childhood you have, the better artist you get, because you have more material to work with”.

3. Marina Abramovich graduated from the Art Academy and received a diploma in Academic Painting. The photo shows her student work.

4. I was not aware that she was very keen on everything esoteric and spiritual. The book contains many stories about shamans, foretellers of the future, monasteries, vipassans, and constant retreats in India.

5. Once she applied to the Australian government requesting that they sponsor her residence with an aborigine tribe for 6 months. As part of this bargain she promised them a further 6 months performing in local galleries based on her experience. The application was approved and she did everything as planned. These chapters about Australia are probably the most exciting. I was also amazed at her talent to successfully write applications and receive money for such outlandish projects.

6. Unbelievable health! - Not everyone could stand her life style. During the "Night Sea Crossing" performance, her partner Ulay got an intervertebral hernia and problems with the spleen (from long sitting and starvation). He had to stop the performance and go to the hospital, and Marina continued to sit without any health consequences.

7. After parting with Ulay, she lived for 12 years with a beautiful Italian man 17 years younger than her.

8. When they parted, she suffered from depression but had the foresight to seek professional help including psychotherapy and medication. However, she did not like the effect of the treatment; she says that her mind became foggy. Abandoning the treatment she plunged into intensive work and travel.

9. It turns out that the idea to bury three Marina’s in three different cities came to her from her grandmother, who had been preparing her own burial garment virtually her whole life. She periodically changed the dress according to current fashion. Marina made the final decision that her own funeral should be planned, after the death of Susan Sontag, who’s badly organised funeral distressed her.

10. At 73 she looks awesome and I hope Marina will live as long as her own grandmother who survived 100 years.

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