Opens 16 March 2019
Light Society, Beijing
Building No. 56, No. 12 Zhuyuan Road
Shunyi District, Beijing
Light Society is proud to present an exhibition by Marina Abramović. Comprised of new and key past works - many of which have never before been exhibited in China - spanning her 40 year career in the mediums of video, photographs and sculpture, the show will be on the first and second floor of Light Society. Thanks to Lisson Gallery and Marina Abramović for their generous support and engagement.
Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramović has pioneered performance as a visual art form. The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring her physical and mental limits in works that ritualise the simple actions of everyday life, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation.
Imponderabilia，1977. ©Marina Abramovic, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Works on the first floor are an internal exploration of the self. Art Must be Beautiful, Artist Must be Beautiful (1975) is comprised of 20 photographs arranged in a square documenting her performance where she simultaneously combs her hair with a metal and while doing so repeats 'Art must be beautiful', 'Artist must be beautiful', until she has destroyed her hair and face. This loss of self is further explored in the work Freeing the Memory (1975). In the video, Abramovic, seated on a chair with her head tilted backwards, reels off all the words she can possibly remember. By reciting all the words stored in her memory, she tries to free herself from the acquired language. 'Freeing the Memory' is part of a series of performances in which Abramovic tries to purify her body and mind and attempts to switch off her consciousness. Abramovic drew inspiration from Eastern philosophies, which have engrossed her since 1975, and especially from rituals and ceremonies that aimed at a higher level of consciousness to find a harmonious balance between mind and body. Five Stages of Maya Dance, the most recent work in the exhibition, refer to the shamanic dance of Mayan civilization. Precisely milled into alabaster, the sculpture has a haunting physical presence, as you move around they decompose into stone. The relationship between surface and image needs to be constantly re-established; the artist is physically present in this subtle play of light and stone.
Works on the second floor of Light Society are a progression, from singular, to unity to complete openness. Works start from her seminal Lips of Thomas, where after consuming one kilogram of honey and one liter of wine, she cuts a five pointed star into her stomach with a razor blade, and lays down on a block ice. Presented as a two-channel sculptural installation, the work is shown on monitors that are placed on top of each other. From 1975-88, Abramović and the German artist Ulay performed together, dealing with relations of duality. Also on display will be Imponderabilia (1977), where Marina and Ulay stand naked facing one another in a doorway, forcing the audience pass between them to enter the room. After returning to solo performances in 1989, Abramović works looked to her personal history. Hero (2002), is dedicated to the chance meeting of Abramović’s father, who was a soldier in World War II and her mother. In this work, she is seen sitting still on a white horse holding a white flag that flutters in the wind for an indefinite period of time. A Slavic song plays over the entire scene. Abramović’s recent work is interested in the concept of duration and a more intense relationship with her public. Ecstasy III from the series With Eyes Closed I See Happiness (2012) is an implied invitation to look inside yourself, leaving the world far behind. These silent and exhausting trials of ecstatic contemplation are designed to reach a state of equilibrium, to give importance to things, and to perceive their heat and energy.
Art Must be Beautiful, Artist Must be Beautiful，1975. ©Marina Abramovic, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Described as 'one of the defining artists of radical performance', Marina Abramović has transcended the form's provocative origins and created some of the most important works in the genre. Challenging, uncompromising and often shocking, Abramović's durational practice continually experiments with, and explores the boundaries of, both her mental and physical endurance and that of her audience. With her body as both subject and medium, she tests the relationship between performer and audience, withstanding pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional, liberating and conscious altering transformation.
Freeing the Memory，1975. ©Marina Abramovic, Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
About the artist
Marina was one of the first performance artists to become formally accepted by the institutional museum world with major solo shows taking place throughout Europe and the US over a period of more than 25 years. Her first European retrospective ‘The Cleaner’ was presented at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden in 2017, followed by presentations at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, Denmark and Henie Onstad, Sanvika, Norway (2017) and Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany (2018). In 2020, Abramović will be the first female artist to host a major solo exhibition in the Main Galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
About Light Society
Light Society inherits the artistic genes of the first photography group in China, “Beijing Light Society”, which was founded in the 1920s. Today, Light Society is on a mission to promote contemporary art in China, especially art based in the photographic medium. By putting out high-quality exhibitions, designing and developing urgently needed educational programs and establishing a systematic framework for the collection of photography and art, light society hopes to inject its own energy into the contemporary art scene，set a trend for the development of contemporary image art in China reshape the environment for photographic practices, and provide ongoing stimulation for the evolution of Chinese image art and culture.
To ensure the best experience for the audience, there's an admission fee. Please purchase your tickets by scanning the QR code below: