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Marina Abramovic, ‘THE KITCHEN VIII’
Marina Abramovic, ‘THE KITCHEN VIII’ (2009)

Marina Abramović addresses being accused of Satanism

‘I really want to ask these people, Can you stop with this? Can you stop harassing me?’

Earlier this month, Marina Abramović was accused of being a Satanist by various right-wing internet figures, following the publication of a Microsoft advert for the HoloLens 2, a headset that features in the artist’s mixed-reality performance, The Life

It’s not the first time that the conspiracy theory has been shared, either. The accusations first emerged in 2016, after the far-right claimed a leaked email about a “spirit cooking” dinner party Abramović was hosting referenced occult sex rituals. 

This time around, the Alex Jones-led site Infowars – known for stoking far-right conspiracy theories – picked up on the 2016 claims, and linked them to the Microsoft video (despite the fact it contained no allusions to Satanism, obviously). The allegations and backlash gained a fair amount of traction, to the tune of 24,000 ‘downvotes’ on YouTube, and the video was subsequently removed by Microsoft.

Now, Marina Abramović has shared her take on the whole ordeal in an interview with The New York Times. Unsurprisingly, she’s not pleased.

“I need to open my heart,” she says. “I really want to ask these people, ‘Can you stop with this? Can you stop harassing me?’” 

“‘Can’t you see that this is just the art I’ve been doing for 50 years of my life?’”

The artist also reveals that she’s received death threats over email since the conspiracy theory reemerged, sometimes up to three a day. Apparently, organisers of her shows – including a retrospective at London’s Royal Academy, scheduled for this year – have also been targeted. “I am personally afraid that any kind of lunatic with a gun will come and shoot me, because they think I’m a Satanist,” she says.

Though she has considered taking action against those that spread the theory, reportedly consulting lawyers about suing Alex Jones on April 17, she has since decided that it would be too expensive and potentially drag on for years.

“All I want to know,” she adds, “is how I can overcome this and have a positive outcome.”

She’s even offered those who believe in the conspiracy theories about her a chance to sit opposite her, as in her iconic work, The Artist Is Present (so iconic that it recently made it into Animal Crossing). The hope is that this would inspire some empathy and understanding of what her work is actually about. She’s not holding her breath, though.