Marina Abramović on humor, vulnerability and failure

“I think failure is a very important part of success. If you don’t fail, it means you’re not risking anything, or you’re repeating yourself. And that means you’ll lose the curiosity and the life force inside of you.” – Marina Abramović on creating art and taking risks in your life.

Marina Abramović is talking about the role of humor in her life and work. Now, that’s not necessarily a topic you might expect to chat about with the grande dame of the performance art world. Her work is powerful, austere, often overwhelming … but funny?

“People know my work and they’re afraid to meet me,” Abramović acknowledges with a laugh. “Then they get to know me and my work and they think I’m hilarious. Put it all together and somehow it works.” She recalls one piece at the Guggenheim in New York in 2005 for which she ate a kilo of honey, drank a liter of red wine, and whipped herself raw (among other things). Not exactly the stuff that comic legends are made of. But, says Abramović: “I was licking the honey and I saw someone opposite writing something frantically in his notebook. And I thought ‘What is he writing, we…

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