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marina abramovic
Courtesy of Marco Anelli

Marina Abramovic explains her choice to have three abortions

The artist believes that children would have been a ‘disaster’ for her work

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović is globally renowned for her 40-year spanning body of work, which uses her own body to make confronting artistic statements. Self-styled as the “grandmother of performance art”, she’s spoken about how having children would have been “a disaster for my work”.

In an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel, she said said: “One only has limited energy in the body, and I would have had to divide it.”

“I had three abortions because I was convinced that it would be a disaster for my work, that you only have so much energy in your body and I would have to share it," she said.

Abramović attributed children as the reason male artists were more successful than women. “There are plenty of talented women. Why do men take all the important positions?” she claimed.

Abramović continued: "It's simple: love, family, children – a woman does not want to sacrifice all of that.”

The Cleaning the Mirror artist said her decision not to start a family had made her “totally free” to travel and work without certain responsibilities, challenging the notion that women should subscribe to institutionalized aspects of ‘womanhood’.

“I am the artwork. I can’t send a painting, so I send myself… in the last year I didn’t spend more than 20 days in New York. At the airport I sometimes have to think: where is my suitcase coming from this time? I don't know if I could live differently. Also, I have no husband, no family, I'm completely free“.

In her retrospective The Artist is Present back in 2010, Abramović sat in the MoMA for three months, where thousands of people visited to sit in a chair opposite her.