Marina Abramovic's IMMATERIAL

The performance artist curates a virtual exhibition for online art platform Paddle8, featuring works by Terence Koh, Yves Klein and Jim Lambie

 Francis Alys  When Faith Moves Mountains (making
Francis Alys When Faith Moves Mountains (making of) , 2002 Francis Alÿs (in collaboration with Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rafael Ortega): video projection, 15:06 minutes, dimensions vary with installation

This week legendary performance artist Marina Abramovic opens an exhibition she has curated for new online art portal Paddle8.com under the title 'Immaterial'. The website plays host to contemporary art galleries and in addition to offering a platform for the sale of artworks, Paddle 8 also aims to promote public learning and engagement with art through building dossiers and online archives over time. 

Once logged on the user can scroll through the exhibition which explores 'immateriality' through work by artists including Terence Koh, Yves Klein and Jim Lambie. Piero Manzoni's work Artist's Shit #31 (a closed tin with the words 'Artist's Shit' on the label and signed on the lid by the artist) is featured alongside a video of Francis Alys' 'When Faith Moves Mountains (making of)', in which hundreds of people use shovels to move a 1600ft sanddune roughly four inches.  We spoke to Marina about the vision for her show…

Dazed Digital: How did you decide to work with Paddle 8?
Marina Abramovic: I have a very love and hate relationship with technology.  I always think technology was invented to allow human beings more time, but actually it takes all our time!  But, then I also think there are some really good parts in it.  The thing to me with curating a virtual show in this way, especially dealing with material in this way is a right-to-the-point decision!   I really think in this way we can access so much information about one artist, not about his work but what he likes, what sort of person he is, what kind of interests he has and to have the of context for this kind of work.

DD: What was the process you went through to make your artist selection?
Marina Abramovic: You know the selection is highly subjective - when you have a curator curate the show it may be more objective, but with an artist it is not.  It's really something that I like and a group of artists who can inspire other viewers to see what  'immaterial' can mean.  I've been looking at pioneers of 'the idea is more important than the product itself' and created a list of artists who I really believe in.

DD: What qualities were you looking for in the work knowing that it would be shown online?
Marina Abramovic: Obviously 'Immaterial' responds to the fact it's in this digital space.  But you know Marcel Duchamp said a really important thing - he said that the viewer completes the work and when you see the work of art you see something which is not finished or defined completely, so that you can finish the work in imaginative space.  So with 'Immaterial', I was looking for people who work with the concept element, or those who have the sound element (the most immaterial of all).   I was looking at these more conceptual ideas so that the public could imagine the work in their head rather than it being materialised.

DD: Francis Alÿs in particular is known for large-scale works that are rooted in the real world and involve people in some way...
Marina Abramovic: This is interesting with reference to Francis Alÿs because yes it's material, it involves people, but at the same time the concept is so immaterial.  Think about the idea of 'moving the mountain', that's a really good example.  Moving the mountain involved an enormous amount of labour from the people who are doing it but still it is impossible to move the mountain, so it stays in the realm of the concept.

DD: Your work has such an investment in the physical - what is your working relationship to the digital realm or your investment in technology as an artist?
Marina Abramovic: Of course i work with video because I hate to have static documentation of something moving.  Apart from this, mainly using the Internet for writing emails and lately Skype, but it's also a generational thing, so I depend on assistants and don't use it that much.  I've become really interested in science though.

To curate 'Immaterial' and something on the web you don't have the sensation of being a part of it, as when you confront the artist directly in the gallery / museum space, but what is interesting here is that the public really trigger, and through the web they can get all the information, not just to buy, but get interested and educated and then go and see the real thing in the real space.  The web gives the possibility to get interested, but I don't believe the whole experience can be through the web, it's through engagement with the work.  You can buy shoes on the web, you can buy a car on the web, but it's very different when you get them and try them.  Paddle is so much more about awareness and education and how to approach the people in a different way, that's why I'm interested

DD: Are there any artists making work with technology or on the internet who you're influenced by?
Marina Abramovic: In my case I'm not really influenced by artists because I always believe it's like being influenced by something secondhand because artists are influenced by something - so why not go to the source?  I'm interested in science, shamanism, volcano eruptions, Aurora Borealis, the strange life of a strange animal in Papua New Guinea… this is what inspires me.

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