Written by: Chiara Atoyebi
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”-Marina Abramović
On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, WCA held a book talk for Marina Abramović’s book entitled “Walk Through Walls: A Memoir,” which is a captivating exploration of the life and artistic journey of renowned performance artist Marina Abramović. With each passage, Abramović invites readers to delve into her experiences through the fluid and immersive narrative, enabling them to grasp the profound passion and dedication that drive her artistic pursuits.
In her memoir, Abramović masterfully recounts her performances, using vivid and evocative language that allows readers to witness the intensity and visceral nature of her art. As she opens up about her seminal work, “The Artist is Present,” she reflects on her unique way of connecting with the audience. Abramović describes the power of the performance stating, “The silence of the room amplifies the connection between me and the participant, the electricity in the air palpable, as if time itself were holding its breath.” With words that feel ethereal in their nature, she vividly paints pictures with words, leaving an indelible mark on readers’ minds.
Abramović’s ability to captivate through storytelling extends beyond her well-known works. She explores her intriguing experiments with audience participation, immersing readers in the unfolding events. Through her vivid narrative, audiences can almost feel the adrenaline and anticipation pulsating through her words as she describes one particular experiment: “The crowd hesitates, curious and uncertain, as they navigate the boundary between spectator and performer. It is in this delicate space that the transformative potential of art manifests.”
“Walk Through Walls” showcases Abramović’s performances and delves into the philosophical underpinnings that drive her artistic practice. She shares her perspective on the purpose of art and its ability to transcend boundaries, stating, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.” Such introspective quotes encourage readers to reflect on their own creative processes and their impact on the world around them.
While the memoir focuses primarily on Abramović’s artistic journey, it also delves into her personal relationships, providing a multifaceted view of her life. She opens up vulnerably about her relationship with Ulay, a prominent artist in his own right, describing their connection with poignant emotion: “Ulay was my artistic partner, lover, and muse. Together, we pushed the boundaries of performance art, blurring the lines between art and life.” These personal anecdotes offer a glimpse into the complex and intimate aspects of Abramović’s life, adding depth to her memoir.
Occasionally, “Walk Through Walls” ventures into a philosophical discourse that may not resonate equally with all readers, particularly those less familiar with contemporary art. However, Abramović’s unwavering authenticity and passion shine through, making this memoir an engaging and thought-provoking read for individuals across various backgrounds.
Through her fluid storytelling and powerful quotes, Abramović enables readers to comprehend the immense passion and dedication that fuel her artistic endeavors. “Walk Through Walls: A Memoir” is a remarkable exploration of the life and journey of one of art’s most enigmatic artists.
It will have an enduring impact on those who venture into its pages for generations to come.