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Walk Through Walls : A Memoir
by Marina Abramovic and James Kaplan


Overview - "I had experienced absolute freedom--I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn't matter, that nothing mattered at all--and it intoxicated me."
In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović's MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours.
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More About Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramovic; James Kaplan
 
 
 
Overview
"I had experienced absolute freedom--I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn't matter, that nothing mattered at all--and it intoxicated me."
In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović's MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature.
The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito's regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother's abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor--all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story--a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe--a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China.
Marina's story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, informs an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781101905043
  • ISBN-10: 1101905042
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype
  • Publish Date: October 2016
  • Page Count: 384


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Artists, Architects, Photographers
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Women

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-08-22
  • Reviewer: Staff

Performance artist Abramovic´ shares the remarkable experiences of her life and background on some of her best-known art pieces in this enchanting and emotionally raw memoir. Her story begins in 1940s Communist Yugoslavia, where her Partisan parents’ stormy relationship cast a pall over her childhood. This is followed by a glimpse of freedom at Belgrade’s Academy of Fine Arts in the 1960s, where Abramovic´ began to engage with the avant-garde first as a painter and then by staging her first piece at the Belgrade Youth Center in 1969. She then spent a decade touring with her lover, fellow artist Ulay. She provides fascinating glimpses into her experiences living with Aboriginal Australians and her walk of China’s Great Wall, sharing illuminating notes from her performances diaries and giving insight into her teaching technique. She o utlines the conceptions and orchestration of the blood-soaked knife game Rhythm 10, the marathon sitting performance Nightsea Crossing, reprised as The Artist Is Present for her 2010 MoMA career retrospective, and the ingenious, cow bone-littered Balkan Baroque. Abramovic´ is brilliant with atmospheric details, coloring the narrative with macabre Slavic jokes and descriptions of the thick glasses and “horrible, socialistic” orthopedic shoes that marred her adolescence; an early living space with a bucket and hose for a shower. She is confessional but unsentimental, admitting to insecurities and failures with refreshing candor. This is an honest, gripping, and profound look into the heart and brilliant mind of one of the quintessential artists of the postmodern era. Photos. (Oct.)

 
BookPage Reviews

The famed performance artist is present in her memoir

Marina Abramović is a legend in the world of performance art, but that’s a rarefied world, well outside the mainstream. While her work has always courted attention, a 2010 MoMA retrospective took the concept to a new level; Abramović sat in the gallery all day, six days a week, for three months, and invited the public to sit across from her. More than 750,000 people accepted the invitation. What compels a person to seek connection on a level that is both so grand and so intimate? Walk Through Walls offers many clues, but as with all art, it falls to the recipient to complete the story.

Born in postwar Yugoslavia, Abramović chafed under the restrictions of the Tito regime and her strict, neglectful parents. Access to art supplies proved to be an escape route; painting led to work with sound and then to performance pieces that were often violent and dangerous. Passionate and highly sexual (even now, at 70, as she reminds us here), her work and love lives often intertwined; years of collaboration with fellow artist and lover Ulay culminated in the two walking to meet one another midway on the Great Wall of China only to break up afterward.

From the pain of her upbringing to her tremendous success, it’s clear that Abramović was destined for a life lived on a grand scale. She’s candid about her process and the sources of her ideas, but the discussion never reduces the finished works to something simple. And while Walk Through Walls reads as a frank and straightforward retelling of a life story, it’s impossible to separate the memoir from the author’s milieu. Is this also a performance, confined to the page? Where is the dividing line that separates life and art? That question, and tension, make this an electrifying read.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews