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Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas
7 Deaths of Maria Callas at the Bavarian State OperaPhotography Wilfried Hösl. Courtesy the Bavarian State Opera

Marina Abramović blames technology, not COVID, for disconnecting society

In an interview with Dazed, the artist said we’ve been socially unplugging long before the pandemic

Unless you’ve been meditating in the desert or sailing around the world with no internet signal, you’ll know we’ve been living with a pandemic for the entirety of 2020.

One of the most drastic ways in which Coronavirus has changed our lives is how we physically interact – see: stopped it entirely. Many social venues and businesses are still closed, people continue to work from home, and we must observe recommended social distancing guidelines when we do see one another – much of life as we knew it remains up for negotiation.

However, in an interview published this week on Dazed, artist Marina Abramović said she believes we should give COVID-19 a day off from the blame game, because we’ve long been disconnected from one another – and it’s not due to a virus.

“This kind of distancing and how differently people relate to each other, it already started long before the virus, with technology,” she said. “All the texting, tweets, Instagrams... young people don’t talk to each other. All the dating is online, through computers. It already alienated human beings.”

Human connection is so close to the artist’s heart (and practice) that she invented The Abramović Method. Developed across decades of research on performance and immaterial art, it incorporates exercises focussing on breath, motion, stillness, and concentration, of which the audience plays a key role. While the method was originally conceived for artists, it was made available to the public at the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) in Saõ Paolo in 2015.

“When I created The Abramović Method I was especially thinking how important human contact is – human touch,” she told Dazed. “I think that the virus is finally going to end, like every virus in the history of humanity. If this is going away, are we going to have to go through the same problems and mistakes again? Or will the virus change our perception? I really hope it will change, and we will understand how nature and human contact is important.”

Abramović added that we have lost our way by overcomplicating our lives: “We need to get back to simplicity, otherwise we are really lost.”

Read the interview in full here