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Peace and quiet: Can Marina Abramović get the Glastonbury crowds to be silent for 7 minutes?

Why is Marina Abramović asking for 7 minutes of silence at Glastonbury?
Why is Marina Abramović asking for 7 minutes of silence at Glastonbury? Copyright AP Photo - Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Copyright AP Photo - Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
By David Mouriquand
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The famous Serbian conceptual artist will take to the Pyramid Stage tonight for seven minutes of silence. Why? And can she pull it off?


Glastonbury has hosted some of the loudest rock bands in the world and is known for its rowdy crowds and high jinks.  

What could be bolder than asking for silence at an event of this scale?  

Marina Abramović, the acclaimed performance artist who has dedicated her life to pushing the boundaries of conceptual art, is about to stage her largest-ever participatory work at Worthy Farm this evening.  

At 17:55 GMT, just before PJ Harvey’s set, the 77-year-old Serbian artist will take to the Pyramid Stage for seven minutes of silence.  

Hardly out of step for an artist who has done naked stand-ins, laid in the centre of a burning wooden star, and stood motionless while an audience was encouraged to use objects on her ranging from a rose to scalpels, nails, and even a loaded gun.  

Still, asking up to 200,000 music fans to keep schtum for a short period of reflection is impressive.  

“Silence is a powerful tool that allows us to connect with ourselves and each other in ways words cannot,” says Abramović. 

“I don’t know any visual artists who have done something like this in front of 175,000 to 200,000 people,” says Abramović. “The largest audience I ever had was 6,000 people in a stadium and I was thinking ‘wow’, but this is really beyond anything I’ve done.” 

Abramović is calling the piece “Seven Minutes of Collective Silence” and rather than a performance, she’s referring to it as a “public intervention” - one she hopes will make festival goers reflect on the current state of the world and gel with Glastonbury’s 2024 theme: Peace. 

“At a festival like Glastonbury, where sound and energy are in constant flux, these Seven Minutes of Collective Silence offer a unique opportunity for unity and introspection. It’s about being present together, experiencing the power of silence as one.” 

She adds: “We are really facing a dark moment in human history. So what can be done? I always think protest brings more protest; hate brings more hate. I think it’s important to turn to your own self. It’s easy to criticise everything else but what can I do in my own self, how can I change?” 

We’ll find out later tonight whether the Pyramid Stage crowd will be responsive to this “public intervention” and can tone it down before their evening of PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem and Dua Lipa – all of which should get the decibel scale back to Glasto levels.    

“It’s a big risk, that’s why I’m terrified,” shares Abramović. “I could completely fail, or people could just sit. I don’t know, but I want to take the risk. Failing is also important, you learn from failing as well as succeeding,” she said. 

Festival boss Emily Eavis seems to have faith. 

“We are honoured to have Marina Abramović bring such a meaningful and profound experience to Glastonbury,” says Eavis. “Her work has always pushed boundaries and inspired deep reflection, and we believe this moment of collective silence will be a memorable and impactful addition to the festival.” 

Glastonbury takes place from 26 June - 1 July 2024. 

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