Marina Abramovic lies on the water’s edge with her eyes closed. We can see only her face and the waves gently lapping her hair. The artist makes no movement, letting herself drift with the water. Just as the image is about to fade out, a larger wave submerges her. Only now does she move her head, manifesting an active reaction to the external world. Stromboli is the island to the south of Sicily with Europe’s only surviving active volcano, which has been shaking the earth every fifteen minutes for two thousand years. It is one such moment that Marina Abramovic experiences in her performance.
In Stromboli, as in many of her other works, Marina Abramovic – one of the best-known performers and body artists of the last few decades – exposes her body to external forces, which gradually take control in the course of the performance. The body has been her primary means of expression from the very outset. After initial performances of an existential nature in which she investigated its limits to the utmost extremes, the body played the central role also in the works created together with her partner Ulay. Together, the two artists frequently aroused the anger of spectators with long performances during which they would strike one another to the point of actual bodily harm, displaying great physical commitment and endurance. Marina Abramovic thus examines the limits and standards that mould the social body, which she makes visible through the provocative nature of her actions. Video has always been used in her work as a means of direct communication and observation capable of capturing the intensity and duration of the performances without intervening directly in their development.
Marina Abramovic (Belgrade, Serbia, 1946) has presented solo shows and performances throughout the world at venues such as the Fondazione Roma Europa in Rome, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC and the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea in Santiago de Compostela. She has also taken part in group exhibitions at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, the Kunsthalle in Hamburg and many other venues. The academies at which she has taught include the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Marina Abramovic lives and works in New York.