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Marina Abramović: Embracing Fashion | "Exclusive" | Art21

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    Art must be beautiful. Artist must be beautiful.
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    Art must be beautiful... [Mumbles]
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    Art must be beautiful. Artist must be beautiful...
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    In the 70's, when artist had red lipstick and nailpolish, and any kind of relation to fashion,
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    It was discussed like being a really bad artist, that's how you want to approve yourself,
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    Because you cannot do it with your work. It was a big "No, no, no, no."
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    I was presenting myself only in one way, very austere, very monastic.
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    You know, in the old days, the performance clothes was always the same,
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    All naked, or dirty black, or dirty white. That was it, you know.
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    Never lipstick, never nailpolish, never high heeled shoes, very kind of strict.
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    Almost masculine view of myself. And when I started working on my own in the begging of 70's,
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    My work was really going to the, pushing physical limits to the point
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    I'll probably have an accident or some terrible ending.
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    [Man and woman] Ahh..... Ahh.....
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    Ulay, how I see now, he was really this new solution that we can put to invent this together,
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    Create something like a third identity.
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    And so Ulay came like a blessing to me.
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    And it really worked.
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    And as a relationship works, it comes to an end, which was very difficult for me,
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    Because I hate failures, and I didn't want to somehow admit that it actually didn't work anymore.
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    But, it really came to the end, and this was why such a perfect form of ending was the Chinese wall.
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    I finished walking on the Chinese wall and said goodbye to my partner, Ulay.
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    And it was the most painful moments of my life and everything crashed with me.
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    My work and my private life. And I was a kind of zero.
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    I just wanted to laugh. I wanted laughter, I wanted to be alive again. I wanted to be happy again.
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    I just wanted to be female again.
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    After I finished the Chinese wall, I didn't need to prove to anybody anything anymore.
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    That was really the turning point for me,
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    When I said,"Okay, I think I am okay artist. I can really enjoy myself and embrace fashion."
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    And that was another liberating thing. And I really think it's okay. I'm not ashamed of this.
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    That is totally vanity. And it just shows the contradiction.
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    Because, yes, I can sit 736 days in a museum in MoMA, an extremely hard performance.
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    And then the day after had Givenchy organizing the fashion dinner, in which I had this amazing dress,
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    Created by Riccardo Tisci, and the jacket was made from 101 snakes.
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    At least, I'm sure they died natural deaths, but nevermind.
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    You see, getting all this fashion attention at 65 is very different.
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    When you are doing with 20, twenty somehow is natural.
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    But now I'm sixty-five. And I was on the cover of V magazine, in fashion.
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    That's much more fun, because it somehow boosts my confidence in myself,
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    Which I never had that much, as a woman. As an artist, yes.
Marina Abramović: Embracing Fashion | "Exclusive" | Art21

Episode #155: Filmed at her New York office in 2011, Marina Abramović discusses how her relationship to fashion and femininity have evolved over the course of a 40-year career. In the 1970s, Abramović relied upon stark, neutral performance uniforms that were always either "naked or dirty black or dirty white." She reached a turning point in 1988 after the dissolution of her artistic collaboration with Ulay Laysiepen, which culminated in "The Great Wall Walk" (1988). Abramović's subsequent embrace of fashion and femininity parallel her re-emergence as a solo performance artist in the 1990s and 2000s.

A pioneer of performance as a visual art form, Marina Abramović uses her body as both subject and medium in performances that test physical, mental, and emotional limits—often pushing beyond them and even risking her life—in a quest for heightened consciousness, transcendence, and self-transformation. Characterized by repetitive behavior, actions of long duration, and intense public interactions, Abramović's work engages universal themes of life and death as recurring motifs, while drawing on the artist's personal biography and reflecting contemporary events.

Learn more about Marina Abramović at:

CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Charles Atlas. Camera: Paul Gibson. Sound: Mark Mandler. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Marina Abramović Archives & Sean Kelly Gallery. Photography Courtesy: ELLE Serbia, Givenchy, Museum of Modern Art, Dusan Reljin, Mario Testino / Art Partner & V Magazine. Special Thanks: Danica Newell & Sidney Russell. Theme Music: Peter Foley

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