To say that performance artist Marina Abramovic has pushed boundaries and gone to extremes throughout her 40-year-long career would be an understatement. The Serbian-born New Yorker has managed to all at once—explore universal themes, find fame and test her physical/mental endurance through art pieces like her Rhythm series and The Artist is Present. In the realm of other female performance artists, Abramovic’s work makes Tilda Swinton’s napping gig at New York City’s MoMA last year look like child’s play and even makes Yoko Ono’s infamous Cut Piece seem like a…well, piece of cake. Having said that, allow me to list a few reasons as to why Marina is the original bad bitch of art…
1. She once drugged herself twice during a performance –– with one pill immobilizing her body, while keeping her mentally lucid and another rendering her unconscious while maintaining her physical abilities –– all in order to test her human limits.
2. In another piece, she carved a star into her abdomen using broken glass.
3. She is BFFLs with big-name stars like Lady Gaga and James Franco.
4. She’s one of the many talented celebrities featured in Jay-Z’s “Picasso Baby” music video.
5. She and her creative partner, Ulay, ended their relationship by trekking across opposite ends of the Great Wall of China until they met in the middle to say goodbye, making for what was arguably the coolest breakup EVER.
6. Before parting ways, Ulay and Marina created Breathing In/Breathing Out, in which they locked lips and shared a single breath until their lungs filled with carbon dioxide –– causing both artists to faint.
7. Her newest performance, beginning this summer, will consist of absolutely nothing. Eager audience members will act as the performing entity as they’re stripped of nearly all of their belongings while Abramovic plans to sit back and utilize solely herself as the “art.”
(Okay, that may have been more than a few reasons… but then again who’s counting?)
And though the 67-year-old’s body has undoubtedly been through hell and back in the name of her craft, the famed innovator still manages to upkeep a fierce and trendsetting fashion sense. Abramovic has said that following her split with Ulay, she felt a sudden desire to embrace her inner vanity, womanhood and love of designer fashion––beginning her journey towards style stardom.
When she’s not flaunting her apparent love for sharp objects and nudity, The “grandmother of performance art” is known to don clean minimalist monochrome looks that combine both menswear silhouettes and flowy feminine shapes, while also complementing her striking jet-black hair. And while Abramovic acts as both muse and friend to high-fashion designers such as Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci (the two even share a sleek NYC townhouse together), the artist also makes her own garments––including the notable red gown she wore throughout The Artist is Present. And when the maven isn’t wearing her roommate’s creations, Abramovic collects apparel from Comme Des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto, both of whom she considers fashion geniuses.
Despite the keen eye for style, it’s hard not to see the stark contrast between Abramovic’s raw and humble artwork and her knack for luxurious high-end fashion. Though her approaches to both fashion and art can be unconventional, Abramovic will stand as a timeless hero for artists and fashionistas alike who dare to be different and make a statement in the process.
Find out below how to snag three of Marina’s different looks for a steal…
Words by Campbell Gee