An opera about the iconic performance artist Marina Abramović is now on at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
Abramović is known for taking art to the extreme with her body. One work in the 1970s involved her cutting a star shape into her stomach. Two years ago she reached new levels in New York by sitting silently in front of her audience for more than 700 hours at the Museum of Modern Art.
The life of the 64-year-old has been staged by the avant garde American director Robert Wilson. Willem Dafoe plays the role of Ulay, the German artist who was Abramovic’s partner until the late 1980s.
He said: “Sometimes I am an emotional element, sometimes I am an informational element, sometimes I am in the scene, sometimes I am commenting on the scene, sometimes I am a musical element, so to go in and out of those modes is a big pleasure for me.”
The show depicts episodes from Abramović’s life, from her childhood in Serbia to her work as a performance artist, bringing together the worlds of theatre, art and music.
Most performers try to avoid dying a death on stage but Abramović asked director Robert Wilson to produce hers.
She explained: “I think in eastern culture the death is part of life, and only if you really understand in every second we can die, next minute we are here and we are not. If we actually included that in our every day thinking we can enjoy life more.”
In 1988, after several years of tension, Abramović and her partner Ulay decided to make a spiritual journey to end their relationship. Each of them walked the Great Wall of China, starting from the two opposite ends. After walking 2,500 km, they met in the middle and said good-bye.
The opera ‘The Life and Death of Marina Abramović’ is on at the Teatro Real in Madrid.