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Extreme artist's mirror

Walk Through Walls
Forfatter: Marina Abramovic
Forlag: Penguin, 2016
Marina Abramovic's autobiography is as uncompromising and confrontational as her performance art.

The criticism of the 70 year-old Serbian-born Marina Abramovic's memoirs is very telling. While The Guardians reviewer Rachel Cooke praises it as "weirdly mesmeric" and remarkably honest, the book is regularly slaughtered by New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner, who thinks it is pretentious and has a self-help aspect that diminishes the value of her art. I think she evokes such strong reactions because she writes about an art that is overwhelmingly confrontational, and because her physical and mental transgressions can seem alien and potentially threatening to an average Netflix-watching and cardboard-drinking western individual.

Garner rejects Abramovic's spiritual openness, which has led her from many a monastic monastery in Tibet, through shamans and ayahuasca treatments in Brazil, to a strong belief in the power of dreams, and of course – of art. Ever since she was a child in Titos Yugoslavia, she experienced that "just as with my dreams, the reality of the books I read was stronger than the reality around me". Through her works of art and experience, she questions the foundations of Western thinking, namely the belief in science and rationality, and the exaltation of the ego. With no understanding of this premise, it is no wonder that Abramovic's performance art appears to be little more than a pompous form of self-harm.

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