Marina Abramovic, Still Not a Feminist

by Whitney Kimball on June 13, 2012 · 9 comments Newswire

Poster for Marina Abramovic documentary

HBO’s Marina Abramovic documentary opened today at Film Forum, and it was accompanied this morning by a brief interview in the New York Times. It reveals that Marina Abramovic once called Glenn Lowry sexy, that she will have three funerals, and that twenty years ago, she got breast implants. No surprises there; the first two are Abramovic calling cards. The breast augmentation is openly stated in her biography, and really, why does the Times want to know about an artist’s boob job?

But Abramovic continues: “And I’m not feminist, by the way. I am just an artist.” Though she’s been included in feminist exhibitions, Abramovic has said this before, notably in a January 2007 feminist symposium at MoMA. She claimed that because she hadn’t heard of feminism until she left Yugoslavia, we can’t blame her. Sure, but she probably hadn’t heard of many of the terms which now accompany her work; the reluctance seems to relate more to displaying one’s work alongside vagina plates.

But does that make sense? Mira Schor addressed the pointed denial of feminism February 2008 for the Brooklyn Rail, with a long list of “not-a-feminist” declarations. Responding in part to Abramovic’s MoMA statement, she wrote:

All artists reject limited readings of their work. But when the work clearly deals with gender and gendered power relations, when it deals with femininity, when it explores female sexuality and the female body, when the work uses the vocabulary of gendered tropes developed by the first generations of the feminist art movement—the ones in WACK! and the ones left out of the history proposed by WACK!—how is it not feminist art? Why is it still such a problem?

  • natexhill

    Has anyone ever seen her laugh?

  • EDS

    Check it out:

    I mean, she’s not losing her sh*t, but she’s tickled.

    • natexhill

      Well well well

  • nathaniel stern

    Being a feminist does not make all your art about feminism and feminism alone. We are all feminists, or at least we all should be. And for those who are not, Why not? I hate that feminism lost the PR battle in the 80s – women have been losing ground in the work force and their rights ever since….

  • Rinaldo Frattolillo

    Who would really care about any artist’s boob job?What it’s really about is the art, and the statement 
    it makes to the viewer… discretion aside.


    • whitney_kimball

      Yes, I actually felt bad for her in that interview. I don’t think the Times would have asked questions like that of a respected male artist. Using your body in your work shouldn’t allow the public to comment freely on your breasts, genitals, or your weird moles.

      • Anonniemuss

        Are there any respected male artists who have the equivalent, which I guess would be a toupee, a terrible comb-over, or a face full of Botox? People tend not to respect plastic-y, ostentatiously vain men any more than they do plastic-y women. I’m not counting Andy Warhol and his wig because it was so pointedly funny-looking it was more of a commentary on vanity than an earnest effort to pander to it. In a broader sense I agree with you about use of an artist’s body in their work but Abramovic has gone beyond that; she has talked a lot about making people uncomfortable, yet she loves approval and celebrity.

    • Anonniemuss

      I know this is a very old post now but for me it is telling. As a woman I think she’s a bit of a fraud, and lacking self-awareness. She has an ideology she sells about making people uncomfortable, but in actuality she cares deeply about consensus and about being liked. Getting plastic tits is just one example of this. Her commitment to celebrity is another.

  • André von Ah

    I am wondering what her laugh has to do with anything, in response to natexhill.
    In general, I guess she is just saying she is not a feminist activist, what is the issue with that? I am an immigrant and not an activist for immigrants rights though I fully identify and live the problems of it everyday. 
    Also it would reduce the readings of her work would she blatantly say she does feminist art. she is not opposed to this frame though, she has been featured in feminist exhibitions before. 

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