Three Historic Films

Marina Abramovic

Creative Time

At 44 1/2, Creative Time's presentation of video art on MTV's outdoor, gilded screen located in the heart of New York City's Times Square, showcased the work of groundbreaking performance artist Marina Abramović from March 14–April 14, 2010. Opening concurrently with her retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present, Creative Time's presentation included Light/Dark (1977), Rest Energy (1980), and Dissolution (1997). Marina Ambramovic is a performance artist whose groundbreaking work has influenced other artists for more than three decades.

"In her stunning work, Marina Abramović—along with her former collaborator, Ulay—has made powerful works that courageously probe conditions of gender, power, sexuality, war, and peace," said Anne Pasternak, President and Artistic Director of Creative Time. "Among the most influential artists of her time, it is exciting to show a small survey of her work on the MTV screen in Times Square, a site with contesting relationships between gender, commerce, and identity."

The first two films—Light/Dark and Rest Energy—featured German-born performance artist Ulay in interactions that explore the themes of tension and violence that carry throughout many of her time-based works. In Light/Dark, Abramović and Ulay kneeled opposite each other against a dark background lit only by two sources of light. They took turns slapping each other at a quickening pace, resulting in mechanized rhythm that continues until Abramović ducks her head, evading the next slap and thus ending the cycle. In Rest/Energy, this cyclical repetition was replaced by an exercise in suspenseful stillness that begins when Abramović and Ulay stand opposite each other and slowly lean apart until they are held only by the tension of a loaded bow that is held between them—its arrow pointed directly at Abramović's heart. After four alarming minutes, they relaxed the tension on the bow, and Abramović was out of danger. In Dissolution, wherein Abramović appears alone in a beautifully lit studio setting repeatedly lashing her bare back with a whip until she begins to tremble, the artist's focus returned to her ongoing exploration of the inextricable unity of body and mind. The title, Dissolution, references themes recurrent in Abramović's work, from violence and cultural memory, to testing the limits of her body in order to reach a higher state of consciousness.