NEW YORK – Performance artist Marina Abramovic plans to build a $15 million center in upstate New York devoted to the research and production of duration-based works of art lasting from six hours to several days.
She unveiled the design for The Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art at MoMA PS 1 on Monday.
In a phone interview last week, Abramovic said the architectural firm OMA will transform a former tennis center in Hudson, N.Y. – about two hours north of New York City – into a 23,000-square-foot facility featuring ramps and specially designed lighting and furniture, including chairs equipped with wheels for visitors who fall asleep during the lengthy performances.
Construction is expected to begin at the end of next year. The opening is projected for late 2014.
The 65-year-old artist said the institute will be part art center, part school, for ephemera performances involving video, opera, film, music, dance and theater in an environment that erases the boundary between artist and viewer as both don white lab coats and interact constantly.
Because of the marathon nature of the works, tired or sleeping visitors reclining on “durational chairs” will be rolled by an attendant to a sleep area and rolled back when they awake, all the while remaining a part of the performance piece.
Abramovic is famous for pushing the limits of her physical and mental endurance as a way of expanding her inner-most feelings and fears – and sometimes those of her viewers.
In one of her longest duration pieces, during a retrospective of her career at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2010, she sat in silence during the hours the museum was open, making eye contact with members of the public who sat across from her.
Abramovic also wants to use the center to teach her Abramovic Method, in which the viewer becomes the artist and vice versa.
“For the young artists we will have courses which will be in the countryside, without food, in complete isolation, not talking for a certain amount because it’s really important preparation of the mind to do performance work,” she said.
She said the center will not only commission young and known artists but also those “who have never made long durational works of art to see what happens when they do.”
For visitors, there will other experiences as well. They can levitate in the Levitation Hall on beds using weight sensitive magnetic fields. In the Crystal Chamber, they can absorb mineral energy to focus their mental and physical energies.
Abramovic, who lives in Manhattan and also has a home near Hudson, purchased the building for her institute four years ago. She said she chose the city of Hudson because of its historic significance as the birthplace of the Hudson River School art movement and proximity to other cultural venues, including the Center for Performing Arts at Bard College and Dia Beacon.
“When you’re away from New York, you’re really ready to experience long durational work,” she said.
In the future, Abramovic also plans to build a small hotel to accommodate visitors and a residence for 25 artists who will attend on a grant each year to produce their own performance piece.
Serge Le Borgne, a Paris gallerist and curator, will serve as director of the institute.
“I’m not going to run the center,” said Abramovic. “I’m going to create a concept and also make some courses myself. But I really want to create a legacy that can run without me.”