MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ. ESTASI
A project by Casa Testori
Curated by Giuseppe Frangi
Produced by Vanitasclub
Milan, Cripta San Sepolcro, 18 October – 31 December 2019
Modena, Teatro Anatomico, 8 March – 30 June 2020
Naples, Castel dell’Ovo, 18 July 2020 – 17 January 2021
FROM TERESA TO MARINA, REASONS FOR AN EXHIBITION
These three videos by Marina Abramović provide visitors with an itinerary that is both exciting and involving. They form a cycle that is presented in its entirety in order to restore the dimension of a “journey” which the artist wished to experience with her performances in the kitchens of what had been for 41 years, from 1955 to 1996, a great convent of Clarisse nuns, who had given home and shelter to orphaned children. The itinerary begins with a meditation on the brevity of life, in which she lightly touches a plaster skull with trembling hands. It passes through an inner earthquake that shakes the milk saucepan she is holding, to reach the formidable final icon of the artist rising up, her arms and legs almost forming a cross, above the space of the old kitchen, still perfectly equipped.
In this place, once inhabited by nuns observing the Rule of St. Clare, Marina Abramović measures herself against another great Roman Catholic figure, St. Teresa of Avila. The artist’s interest in this saint arises, as she herself has explained, from the intensity of her spiritual experience – an experience Abramović discovered through reading the Autobiography, a diary of her inner life, which Teresa wrote in 1562 under the direction of her confessor, Pedro Ibáñez. […] Marina Abramović was so profoundly impressed that she cut out extracts to superimpose on her own personal writings.
Marina Abramovic has always made it clear that no confessional meaning is to be attributed to her following physically the traces of Teresa’s documented spiritual experiences. What interests her principally is the saint’s inner energy, so much so that she resolved to relive it through these three performances realized in 2009 and documented, with great rigor and precision, by the videos.
Naturally, the idea of proposing The Kitchen complete is also linked to the nature of the place in which the work is displayed. We are in the space adjacent to the Crypt of the Holy Sepulcher, the origins of which go back to the 11th century and which has now been happily restored to its former splendor. The Crypt, with its profound, intimate atmosphere and its graceful, decorative architectural elements, is a place of rare emotional intensity, a precious island in the heart of present-day Milan. The itinerary of The Kitchen therefore finds experiential completion in the silent journey through the spaces of the Crypt, so dense in spirituality.
This connection joins forces with another interesting challenge which proposals like this (and those preceding it, such as the videos by Bill Viola and Michelangelo Antonioni and Andy Warhol’s “Last Supper”) intend to launch: the idea that an interesting and vital dialogue, reaching beyond their respective histories and affinities, may be instituted between contemporary art and places of worship. A dialogue that is experiential rather than academic, and which therefore succeeds in involving spectators who, while visiting this exhibition, are drawn into a genuine living experience.
“Marina Abramović. Estasi” presents to the public three videos from the series The Kitchen, made by the artist as a tribute to Saint Teresa of Avila, in the evocative setting of the Cripta San Sepolcro.
Curated by Casa Testori and produced by Vanitasclub, manager of the Cripta San Sepolcro, in collaboration with the Veneranda Biblioteca and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the exhibition was a great success at the Milan venue, and then moved on to two other fascinating places: the Teatro Anatomico in Modena and Castel dell’Ovo in Naples.
The second stop in the exhibition was the Teatro Anatomico in Modena, a fascinating place marked by the memory of the function it performed for so many years: the bodies studied by doctors still mark the space in the concreteness of the structures.
Marina Abramović, with her videos, inserts in this context a reflection that leads us to remember how those bodies were also “souls”. In the final vision, with the performance Levitation, we witness an unforgettable and emblematic liberation right above the table where the bodies were laid down and studied.
The Modenese exhibition was realised with the patronage of Comune di Modena.
With the collaboration of the Assessorato alla Cultura e Turismo del Comune di Napoli, the exhibition reached its final destination: Castel dell’Ovo in Naples.
One of the symbols par excellence of the capital of Campania thanks to its potion, the oldest castle in Naples welcomed in the Sala delle Carceri the art of the mother of performance art, Marina Abramović, an artist who has a long familiarity with this city, where at the age of 46 she held the historic performance Rhytm 0 at Galleria Studio Morra.