cover image Walk Through Walls: A Memoir

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir

Marina Abramović, with James Kaplan. Crown Archetype, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-101-90504-3

Performance artist Abramović shares the remarkable experiences of her life and background on some of her best-known art pieces in this enchanting and emotionally raw memoir. Her story begins in 1940s Communist Yugoslavia, where her Partisan parents’ stormy relationship cast a pall over her childhood. This is followed by a glimpse of freedom at Belgrade’s Academy of Fine Arts in the 1960s, where Abramović´ began to engage with the avant-garde first as a painter and then by staging her first piece at the Belgrade Youth Center in 1969. She then spent a decade touring with her lover, fellow artist Ulay. She provides fascinating glimpses into her experiences living with Aboriginal Australians and her walk of China’s Great Wall, sharing illuminating notes from her performances diaries and giving insight into her teaching technique. She outlines the conceptions and orchestration of the blood-soaked knife game Rhythm 10, the marathon sitting performance Nightsea Crossing, reprised as The Artist Is Present for her 2010 MoMA career retrospective, and the ingenious, cow bone-littered Balkan Baroque. Abramović´ is brilliant with atmospheric details, coloring the narrative with macabre Slavic jokes and descriptions of the thick glasses and “horrible, socialistic” orthopedic shoes that marred her adolescence; an early living space with a bucket and hose for a shower. She is confessional but unsentimental, admitting to insecurities and failures with refreshing candor. This is an honest, gripping, and profound look into the heart and brilliant mind of one of the quintessential artists of the postmodern era. Photos. (Oct.)