Marina Abramović: A Visual Biography
Marina Abramović, Katya Tylevich
Laurence King Publishing, 2023
Tylevich (Gus Van Sant) delivers an idiosyncratic, revealing, and image-rich biography of conceptual performance artist Abramović. Drawing from photos and interviews, Tylevich notes that Abramović was raised by an art preservationist mother and a war-fixated father in 1940s and ’50s communist Yugoslavia, and “always felt” that she was an artist (“I was jealous Mozart started at seven. I wouldn’t get my chance until I was older”). In the 1970s, after graduating from art school, she began teaching at an art academy in a provincial town outside Belgrade—her main advice to her class was to “get the hell out of here”—and later traveled across Europe with her first performance pieces. Her romantic and creative partnership with German-born artist Ulay receives careful attention, as do the personal and political influences that fed her work, and her demanding art workshops, which entail “five days, no food, no talking… after that, you can do your art.” Juxtaposing images with evocative quotes, many of which are nearly full stories in their own right (next to a photo of Abramović’s father: “I saw him kissing a woman in the street and he pretended not to know me. We didn’t talk to each other for years. It was horrible. I loved my father”), Tylevich provides readers with an up-close look at both the life of the artist and the expressive, enigmatic mind behind the art. This captivates. Photos.