Last year, the work of Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović appeared in a number of exhibitions across London. However, her first major UK retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) – initially planned for 2020, then postponed to autumn 2021 due to COVID – was pushed back once again, thanks to the risks of its “performative and participatory elements” amid the pandemic.
Now, we finally have a new date for the twice-delayed show at the RA, which has announced that it will open in September 2023, running through to December of the same year.
The blockbuster exhibition is reportedly set to feature works created across Abramović’s 50-year career, spanning film, photographs, objects, installations, and “re-performances” – that is, recreations of the performance art for which the artist is best-known, featuring younger performers.
The actual works that are set to feature in the upcoming RA show are yet to be revealed. Given the intimate nature of many of the artist’s most iconic performances, however, it’s easy to see why the gallery has put off the show to coincide with the easing of COVID restrictions. In 2019, for example, the retrospective was said to includeImponderabilia, a once-banned nude performance by Abramović and her partner, Ulay, which required visitors to squeeze between their naked bodies.
“It became clear that autumn ’21 was still a potential risk,” says a Royal Academy spokesperson (via the Art Newspaper). “So to mitigate that risk, we decided to reprogramme it two years later when we felt we could be reasonably certain we could present the exhibition as we and the artist had originally intended.”
Earlier this year, Abramović also resurrected her seminal performance piece The Artist Is Present, first staged at MoMA in 2010, for an auction to provide support amid the war in Ukraine. Winning bidders were offered the opportunity to participate in a restaging of the work, with proceeds benefiting Ukrainian war casualties.
The Royal Academy of Arts’ Marina Abramović retrospective will open September 23, 2023, running until December 10, 2023.