Marina Abramović, performance artist

Desert Island Discs

31-12-2023 • 39 mins

Marina Abramović is an artist renowned for performances and feats of endurance, in which her body is pushed to its limits. She has moved, scandalised and delighted audiences for half a century, and is now celebrated by world-leading galleries and institutions.

Marina was born in Belgrade in 1946. Her parents were honoured as war heroes for their work for the Partisan resistance movement, and both took up senior roles in the post-war Yugoslav government. Marina became interested in painting during her childhood, and went on to study art.

She first made her name as a performance artist in her 20s, creating events which often shocked viewers – and were equally traumatic for her. In 1974 she placed 72 objects, including sharp tools, a whip and a loaded pistol, on a table and invited gallery goers to use them on her, however they wished. She was attacked and left scarred, and part of her hair went white. For many years she led a nomadic existence, creating works with her partner, the German artist Ulay. In 1997, in response to the war in Bosnia, she created a prize-winning work for the Venice Biennale, in which for four days she attempted to scrub the blood from a vast pile of cow bones.

In 2010 her exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York attracted almost a million people, many queuing for hours for a chance to sit opposite her in silence as part of her marathon performance The Artist is Present. More recently her work has been celebrated in a major retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, along with performances at English National Opera, marking the centenary of Maria Callas.

DISC ONE: Aria from The Goldberg Variations. Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach German composer and musician, performed by Igor Levit DISC TWO: Norma, Act 1: "Casta diva". Composed by Vincenzo Bellini, performed by Maria Callas (soprano) and Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano DISC THREE: 4 Degrees - Anohni DISC FOUR: Paloma Negra - Chavela Vargas DISC FIVE: Private Dancer - Tina Turner DISC SIX: Sherab Nyingpo Mantra (The Heart Sutra) - Tashi Lhumpo Monks DISC SEVEN: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 - 2. Andante. Composed by Mozart and performed by Mitsuko Uchida (piano), with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Tate DISC EIGHT: Rum And Coca-Cola - The Andrews Sisters

BOOK CHOICE: In Search of the Miraculous by Peter D Ouspensky LUXURY ITEM: A cashmere blanket CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Sherab Nyingpo Mantra (The Heart Sutra) - Tashi Lhunpo Monks

Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Sarah Taylor

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