Shock! Horror! Surprise! The art of Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic. Legendary performance artist. God mother of performance art. Bff of Lady Gaga and frienemy of Jay-Z. Marina Abramovic is the number one contemporary artist that has always fascinated me. Whether she is creating new performance art pieces, raising money to start her own institute or revealing plans for her own funeral, she always seems to be drawn into the centre of attention of the art world.


Marina is probably the most crazy artist of our age. Actually I have to correct myself there: she is definitely the craziest artist of our age. The performance artist has done some badass stuff that is horrific and fascinating at the same time. Still, I think she is the very best and I will convince you why.

Marina started pioneering her legendary performances all the way back in the seventies, a time when performance art was still very new and exciting in Europe. Marina was no ordinary girl. Already at art school she refused to use traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture. She didn’t need no paint or brushes to create artworks. She used her own body as a medium and therefore cut down the distance between the artist and the audience.


What made her performances unforgettable is that they often involved putting herself in grave danger. Exploring the physical and mental limitations of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. 

In the performance Rhythm 0 (1974) she invited the public to threaten her body with 72 different objects, including honey, scissors and even a loaded gun. And so they did. This performance artwork was very shocking (and you may state very gross!), but in fact also very interesting to investigate. When you look past the nastiness, you can see that this artwork had the power to transform the audience. Where spectators usually only look at an artwork, the audience became part of the artwork itself. On top of that, the individuals were facing an ethical struggle: whether to harm or to help Marina. Some people completely lost their minds and one person almost shot the artist. This artwork is definitely an interesting experiment to the human mind.

Not all Marina’s artworks are violent. Some intriguing pieces she did included her cleaning a human skeleton in her lap and sitting for 736 hours straight in silence in a museum, while spectators were invited to sit opposite her. This woman surely knows how to surprise the audience.


Marina has done some weird stuff and has broken all possible boundaries of art. Her works are over the top insane, but by doing so, she invented new artistic practices. She has been an enormous influence on performance artists all over the world. She showed us that artworks don’t necessarily have to be objects, artists don’t necessarily have to be all sane and that the art world is no traditional place at all.

So to summarise Marinas Abramovic and her artworks: Crazy? Absolutely. Kick ass artist who changed the art world? Definitely!

Written by Freelance art writer Rosanne Schipper for The Public House of Art