Legendary performance artist Abramovic unveils her story in this highly anticipated memoir.
When she was growing up, the author lived in an environment of privilege in Yugoslavia, which was on the verge of ruin. Her parents, two fervent communist partisans and loyal officers during Josip Broz Tito’s rule, were not the warmest people. Abramovic was put under the care of several people, only to be taken in by her grandmother. “I felt displaced and I probably thought that if I walked, it meant I would have to go away again somewhere,” she writes. Ultimately, she carried this feeling of displacement throughout most, if not all, of her career. Many remember The Artist Is Present, her 2010 performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York during which she sat in front of museumgoers for 736 hours, but her work started long before then. As a woman who almost single-handedly launched female performance art, the author has spent the better part of her life studying the different ways in which the body functions in time and space. She pushed herself to explore her body’s limits and her mind’s boundaries (“I [have] put myself in so much pain that I no longer [feel] any pain”). For example, she stood in front of a bow and arrow aimed at her heart with her romantic and performance partner of 12 years, Ulay. She was also one of the first people to walk along the Great Wall of China, a project she conceived when secluded in aboriginal Australia. While the author’s writing could use some polishing, the voice that seeps through the text is hypnotizing, and readers will have a hard time putting the book down and will seek out further information about her work.
Her biographer, James Westcott, once said: “every time she tells a story, it gets better,” and one can’t help but wait in anticipation of what she is concocting for her next tour de force.