Marina Abramović has announced her plans to restage her seminal work The Artist Is Present to benefit Ukrainian victims of the devastating Russian attacks. In conjunction with New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery and Artsy, bidding is now open for the opportunity to participate in this upcoming iteration of one of the performance artist’s most famed works.
Abramovíc first staged The Artist is Present at MoMA in 2010, spending 736.5 hours over a period of three months seated silently at a table while a parade of visitors took turns sitting opposite her, sharing eye contact. The exhibition attracted an estimated half a million visitors while approximately 1,500 people – including Lou Reed and Björk, among many other notable faces – got the chance to silently commune with Abramovíc. But the emotional climax of the performance famously occurred when the artist’s former collaborator and lover, Ulay, arrived unexpectedly to join her. The wordless reunion of the two estranged artists remains one of the most poignant encounters captured on film, as both faces silently register decades’ worth of intensely complicated feelings.
The upcoming 2022 staging of The Artist is Present will enable one individual and one pair of auction-winners to participate in the legendary performance, and the event will be captured by Marco Anelli, the photographer who documented the original performance at MoMA in 2010. All proceeds will be donated to Direct Relief, a charity organisation working with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to provide urgent medical aid to the many Ukrainians destroyed and imperilled by the war.
“I was born in Yugoslavia, a country which thrived under cultures from the west and Russia from the east,” Abramovíc explained in a statement of solidarity as Russia invaded Ukraine. “Over the past few years, I worked in Ukraine and I got to know the people there. They’re proud, they’re strong, and they’re dignified. I have full solidarity with them on this impossible day. An attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on humanity and has to be stopped.”
Bidding is now open here for The Artist Is Present: A Benefit Auction for Ukraine