Marina Abramović has launched a skincare brand – and it doesn’t seem to be satire

Marina Abramović has launched a skincare brand – and it doesn’t seem to be satire

Marina Abramović has launched a vary of skincare and wellness merchandise. The artist and her enterprise accomplice, Nonna Brenner, are releasing three sorts of ingestible drops (priced at £99 every) and a face lotion (priced at £199) below the auspices of the “Marina Abramović longevity technique”.

Marina Abramović is often described as “the godmother of efficiency artwork”. Since the early Seventies, she has been utilizing her personal physique as materials, testing its bodily endurance: from rhythmically stabbing a knife between her fingers till she grazed herself 20 occasions to strolling the Great Wall of China.

The new merchandise are being marketed as a part of the artist’s “Abramović technique”. Both an thought and product, the strategy is on the market to buy as a set of playing cards with directions “to reboot your life”.

Abramović’s foray into the wellness business just isn’t significantly stunning. As of 2024, she positions herself as an artist-cum-life coach, and there’s little indication that she would possibly be partaking in satire. Her newest work seems to embrace the form of New Age vernacular that, exterior artwork, has lengthy been an object of ridicule.

“For a long time Abramović has delved into a number of types of knowledge, together with Tibetan Buddhism, Brazilian Shamanism and the beliefs of Aboriginal Australian communities, to study routes to greater consciousness, typically reached by overcoming fears,” claims a current Modern Art Oxford brochure. If exhibition booklets are sometimes criticised for his or her imprecise language, then the substance of Abramović’s current artwork enhances them completely.

Abramović and the historical past of feminist efficiency artwork

It would be simple to describe this enterprise as simply one other chapter within the lengthy historical past of artists “promoting out” – however the relationship between magnificence and feminist artwork has a lengthy and sophisticated historical past.

Performance has been a productive medium for girls artists due to its emphasis on subjectivity. The apparently goal analytical voice attribute of a lot artwork criticism has, in truth, traditionally had a very particular id: white and male. To draw consideration to the false universality of this angle, efficiency artists confronted their viewers with their bare, and due to this fact visibly distinctive, our bodies.

Marina Abramović and Dr Nonna Brenner.
Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Longevity Method

The level of early feminist efficiency artwork was not to scale back femininity (nor, for that matter, masculinity) to a set of bodily traits, however to expose earlier cases of talking from a gendered place hid as essential distance.

Defying the objectification of the female topic in artwork and well-liked imagery, feminist artists had been aware of the hyperlink between physicality and bodily look. Still, the issue of seems rapidly turned a thorny situation in feminist circles.

In 1976, critic Lucy Lippard remarked concerning the artist Hannah Wilke, who typically photographed herself nude, that: “Confusion of her roles as lovely girl and artist, as flirt and feminist, has resulted at occasions in politically ambiguous manifestations which have uncovered her to criticism on a private in addition to on an inventive degree.”

The downside confronted by “physique artwork”, because the inventive practices that targeted on embodiment got here to be identified, was the lengthy historical past of representing female our bodies for the enjoyment of the presumably male spectator. This battle between fetishisation and particular person company was central to Wilke’s follow.

Wilke photographed herself all through her profession. In 1987, she was identified with lymphoma. She continued to document her physique in a photographic collection titled Intra-Venus that explicitly confirmed the impression of sickness on her look.

When artist Jo Spence sought different therapies for most cancers, documenting herself in therapy, her want to escape medicalisation was an act of political protest. The level was to refuse the de-individualised, sick physique – topic turned object.

Abramović, alternatively, claims on the web site promoting her merchandise that: “Our want for consumption allowed us to be consumed, and at all times retains us hungry for brand new devices to purchase. The results of all that is that we’ve misplaced our non secular centre.”

The deal with “spirituality” has changed her curiosity within the stress between the self and different, attribute of performances corresponding to Rhythm 0, the place the artist succumbed to the needs of her viewers. On a desk, she set out 72 objects, starting from a feather to a gun, and requested the viewers to use them “on her”.

Even the ability of Abramović’s 2009 work The Artist is Present, a blockbuster exhibition-performance by which Abramović invited guests to sit reverse her, lay in the truth that it was solely deceptively easy. Sitting in a picket chair for hours on finish was an unlimited bodily feat for Abramović.

And but, on the current Royal Academy of Arts retrospective, the work’s documentation targeted on faces: Abramović as skilled vis-à-vis her silent interlocutors, who, having queued for hours, had been typically visibly moved by the encounter.

The trailer for the documentary about Abramović’s efficiency piece, The Artist is Present.

The strict parameters of Abramović’s works and their engagement with social norms matter no extra. What used to be about bodily vulnerability is now about psychological power. Not defiant power, however the individualistic ideology of power that makes no distinction between the highly effective and the powerless.

The foundations upon which Abramović has constructed her follow – of transgression, the feminist vanguard – have crumbled. Her artwork slots neatly into right now’s mainstream deal with particular person empowerment on the expense of dismantling patriarchy as a structural situation. Voyeurism is welcome.

The irony of promoting a £199 face lotion as an antidote to, as Abramović vaguely places it, “new devices” appears too apparent to be real – however the stunt is tough to understand as subversive.

The French artist Orlan is legendary for present process a collection of invasive procedures to resemble western archetypes of supreme magnificence: Mona Lisa’s clean brow, Venus’s completely formed chin. By taking objectification to the acute, Orlan makes it futile. There is nothing we will do to her that she can not do to herself.

If Abramović’s merchandise had been to have a essential edge, it would be as a part of Orlan’s magnificence routine: a lotion so good it makes you get away.

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