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Sausages are not the only fruit

Submitted by on July 21, 2011 – 8:35 amNo Comment

Being well away from the front of the stage is a distinct advantage. Hair burning, self-mutilation, suffocation and Russian Roulette are just some of the happy scenarios Marina Abramovic engages in.

A white figure emerges from the bowels of the theatre, reeling off consecutive years with significant events. ‘1976 join the Communist Party’, ‘1983 first fuck’. The three dogs that were prowling around the stage have left and the three coffins consumed by darkness. The vastness of the stage emphasised by the blinding light reflecting off the back wall, strange automatons move across the stage at different rates, memories?

Some slow, others fast, some repeat. Long term memory fixed, more solid. Long term memory cells do not go through the same cell reproduction as the rest of our bodies; if they did we would have a memory span of about two weeks.

Childhood recall, wicked Mother, loveless family and self loathing. Typical nuclear family. Single child artist with nice frames. Masturbation and nude stair rolling, snakes nonchalantly draped over the shoulder, fragments of her past displayed on stage, turning a dying wish into performance art.

Self harm and suicide is never too far away, the avarice’s deceases that dare not speak its name. The long term psychological impact of alienation is coming home to roost. Depression and mental illness is at epidemic levels, pushed into the stagnant living rooms, mindless quiz shows and an endless consumption of drugs.

Impressive dry ice control, waves and counter-flows of white fluffy cloud like cotton wool sees Marina looking down from heaven as angels fly, wings flapping and the Master of Ceremonies concludes.

Warhol and Lowry preceded my first acquaintance with Abramovic, no hair burning or wrist slashing, the self abasement was in the dismantling of the conventions of theatre, slashing through the familiar, suffocating the acceptable. A visual fragmentistism, a minimalist musical created in the tradition of Flavin or Judd.

Robert Wilson’s ‘The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic’ devoured the living tissue of normalism to express the unshackled belief of a victim of the extreme normalist.

Probing, pushing and manipulating her way through her own psyche, Abramovic leads us to the point where death is a blessed relief. The dictatorship of life exposed for its awful insistence of continuation at any price. Blessed are the dead for they have achieved peace. No longer the playthings of the strong and the ruthless, the scream and the repeated acts of painful self retribution never rewarded, a hollow emptiness, a dark lone space ever void of companionship.

A real life cartoonesque drama of childhood catastrophe, life-size Minny Mouse, neglected by adult soul. Minny roams, jutting arm into spinning machine, which draws her ever inwards. Adult soul calls for washing machine engineer, who, seeing the ghastly ripping of flesh and bone, screams himself into a panic. Emotionless adult soul looks on in disbelief as the scene remains unresolved.

Interspersed with traditional Slavic folk songs, sung with amazing power and ease, narration, dance and film clips of Tito shaving, sharpened metallic point moving inexorability towards an open eye and a car boot sale all anchor on the internal rhythm of the piece.

Each separate and related act has its place and its time and is linked to the previous and future elements of the show. The deviance from the norm ends with the acceptance of linear time, like the modern novel the list is paramount. A list of individual chronological events, subsumed in the collective, reaches out to a fellow sufferer and cries out for understanding and forgiveness, which is never forthcoming and never enough.

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