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Marina Abramovic 'THE KITCHEN VIII'
Marina Abramovic, ‘THE KITCHEN VIII’

Marina Abramovic criticised over ‘Aboriginie’ book extract

The artist has come under fire for calling indigenous Australians ‘dinosaurs’ that ‘look terrible’

Marina Abramović has been criticised over a controversial new passage in her latest memoir, in which she calls Aboriginal people “dinosaurs” that look “strange” and “terrible”.

The passage from the upcoming novel – titled Walk Through Walls – was shared on Twitter earlier today. In it, the Serbian performance artist remembers a 1979 trip to Australia, where she had her first encounter with an indigenous Australian tribe.

“Aborigines are not just the oldest race in Australia; they are the oldest race on the planet,” Abramović explains in the segment. “They look like dinosaurs. They are really strange and different, and they should be treated as living treasures. Yet they are not.”

She continues: “But at the same time, when you first meet them, you have to put effort into it. For one thing, to Western eyes they look terrible. Their faces are like no other faces on earth; they have big torsos... and sticklike legs.”

Understandably, the reaction hasn’t been so positive. Despite heaping praise on Aboriginal people’s “fascinating” lifestyle for the rest of the chapter, Abramović’s views have outraged fans on social media. “This better be just really bad performance art,” wrote one Twitter user. “When pushing boundaries #MarinaAbramovic should be more aware of her privilege and avoid racism,” decried another

In response to these complaints, Marina Abramović issued a statement this afternoon. “I have the greatest respect for Aborigine people, to whom I owe everything,” she said. “The time I spent with members of the Pijantjatjara and Pintupi tribes in Australia was a transformative experience for me, and one that has deeply and indelibly informed my entire life and art.”

“The description contained in an early, uncorrected proof of my forthcoming book is taken from my diaries and reflect my initial reaction to these people when I encountered them for the very first time way back in 1979,” she added. “It does not represent the understanding and appreciation of Aborigines that I subsequently acquired through immersion in their world and carry in my heart today.”