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?