About the Photographer
Serbian, b. 1946
I only used the one image which presents the strongest moment of the performance itself, and can therefore stand on its own as a photograph… . The audience can, by reading the text description, and by looking at one single photograph, imagine the rest in their minds. -– Marina Abramovic
Interested in the limits of mental and physical endurance, influential performance artist Marina Abramovic has used her body as the subject and medium of her work since the early 1970s. Though not her medium directly, photography has also played an important part in her career, documenting performances and so providing the only extant time-based traces of those temporal acts. The series "Performance Edition 1970-75" uses one photograph and one text panel each to represent performances for which there no longer is (or never was) film or video documentation. The text of Lips of Thomas explains that 1973 performance:
LIPS OF THOMAS
I slowly eat 1 kilo of honey with a silver spoon.
I slowly drink 1 liter of red wine out of a crystal glass.
I break the glass with my right hand.
I cut a five pointed star on my stomach with a razor blade.
I violently whip myself until I no longer feel any pain.
I lay down on a cross made of ice blocks.
The heat of a suspended space heater pointed at my stomach
Causes the cut star to bleed.
The rest of my body begins to freeze
I remain on the ice cross for 30 minutes until the audience interrupts the piece by removing the ice blocks from underneath.
Duration: 2 hours 1975
Abramovic first performed Lips of Thomas at Galerie Krinzinger, Innsbruck in 1973, then restaged it in 2005 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York as part of Seven Easy Pieces, a series of seven performances in which Abramovic reenacted landmark performance work by Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, VALIE EXPORT, Bruce Nauman, and Gina Pane.
Abramovic was born on November 30, 1946 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. She studied from 1965-70 at Academy of Fine Arts, Belgrade, and did graduate studies from 1970-72 at Radionica Krsta Hegedusica, Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb, Croatia. Her performances include The Great Wall Walk (1988), and she is the recipient of the Golden Lion Award for Best Artist XLVII Biennale di Venezia (1997), Niedersächsicher Kunstpreis (2003), and New York Dance and Performance Award (2003). The MoCP included Abramovic's work in its exhibition Camera/Action: Performance and Photography, October 15 through December 23, 2004. Abramovic has taught in Paris, France; Novi Sad, Yugoslavia; and Berlin, Hamburg, and Braunschmeig, Germany. She lives in Amsterdam and New York.