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Balkan Baroque (1997)

Marina Abramović

Since the early 1970s Belgrade-born artist Marina Abramović has been at the forefront of performance art and has defined, probably more than anyone else, the force of this particular medium. In Balkan Baroque, which she presented at the 1997 Venice Biennale, Abramović connected the tragic story of the civil war in her native Yugoslavia with her own personal history. Next to a three-channel video installation on which one could see her father, her mother and herself, the artist sat among thousands of bloody beef bones. She scrubbed the flesh off the bones for five days, six hours a day, while singing, almost hypnotically, songs she remembered from her childhood. Many aspects of Marina Abramović's work come together in this visually stunning piece – the body-based works she produced at the beginning of her career, the endurance performances she did in the late 1970s with her partner Ulay, her work in theatre and her interest in sculpture, installation, video and narrative, which forms her most recent body of work.

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