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Marina Abramovic
Freeing the Memory, 1976Courtesy of Marina Abramović and the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade

Marina Abramović is reviving a once-banned nude performance

The 1977 iteration of Imponderabilia was closed by the police after it was deemed ‘obscene’

Marina Abramović is re-staging one of her most up-close-and-personal performances at her major 2020 exhibition at London’s Royal Academy, which will celebrate five decades of her pioneering work.

Originally performed at the Museum of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Bologna in 1977, Imponderabilia consisted of Abramović and then-partner and fellow artist Ulay’s naked bodies stood motionless, opposite one another in a doorway. In order to get inside the museum, visitors had to squeeze between the artists – a gap which was described as a ‘birth canal’.

By moving through the bodies, Abramović and Ulay also believed the audience took an active role in the performance. While originally scheduled to run for three hours, the police shut it down after just 90 minutes, deeming it “obscene”.

Impondererablia came during an era the pair travelled through Europe and often over to America, staging now-infamous performances such as Relation in Time (1977) and Rest Energy (1980).

The 2020 edition, however, will feature models instead of Abramović and Ulay. Visitors will also have the choice to go between the bodies, or take another route around the gallery and instead be an observer.

Marina Abramović: 50 years of pioneering performance art opens September 2020 at London’s Royal Academy