Responding to recent articles by the New York Post and Artnet, performance artist Marina Abramovic spoke out over accusations that the her institute had misused funds for the now-cancelled Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) building in Hudson, New York. Abramovic had announced the cancellation of the OMA-designed performance art space, citing that the cost had grown to $31 million. In a press release sent this morning, Abramovic broke down where the money from her Kickstarter had gone. She stated that the $661,452 she raised on Kickstarter, minus the crowdfunding platform's administrative fee, left her with $596,667. She also specified that “the Kickstarter was created to fund schematic designs by OMA New York for the building in Hudson, NY." The press release provided a list of costs and detailed how nearly a million dollars had gone to OMA for design fees and related services, with the firm writing off $142,167 as a donation. Abramovic revealed that OMA had billed her $655,167.10 for designing the new MAI building, with an added $354,502.67 in consultant fees, and $102,392.83 for the owner’s representative. Abramovic also clarified that any other money that had gone towards the project was paid for out of pocket, including over a million dollars for purchasing and renovating the existing building. In a recent interview with Vulture about the fate of the MAI, Abramovic explained that the cost of the renovation had grown to astronomical levels, including $700,000 for asbestos abatement alone. As for those Kickstarter backers who never received their awards? “[…] The only people that did not receive their rewards are the ones that did not respond to our requests for information. We welcome those backers that did not receive what they deserved to contact the institute directly via Kickstarter or on our website,” said Abramovic. True to Abramovic's performance-oriented aesthetic, the rewards were largely ephemeral; they ranged from a hug at the one dollar level to a soup-cooking session with the artist for $10,000 backers.
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Update: Marina Abramovic responded to the allegations reported in this article. That response is available here. After failing to meet its $31 million funding goal, performance artist Marina Abramovic recently announced the cancellation of her Hudson, New York-based Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI). Designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas, the 33,000-square-foot space would have led visitors through guided tours of the experimental performances that Abramovic is famous for. Originally estimated at $8 million, the project’s costs ballooned over the years to $31 million, according to the New York Post. Speaking at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery in October, Abramovic conceded that the project had grown too expensive to proceed with. “I, as a performance artist, could never raise $31 million unless some amazing guy from the Emirates [came forward] or some Russian who just wrote a cheque because he believed in me. But in real life, that doesn’t happen,” she said. With the cancellation of the MAI, questions have arisen over the $2.2 million already raised for the project. After a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign raised $660,000, the artist pulled in another $1.5 million through private donations. According to the Post, a spokesperson for Abramovic has stated that any money raised has been paid to OMA. “The funds were raised not for the renovation itself but specifically for the schematics and the feasibility study,” the spokesperson said. Although the Kickstarter description confirms the spokesperson’s statement, several backers questioned whether they had thrown their money away, while others complained that they had never received their rewards for donating. “Fraud. I was supposed to receive a signed copy of the Abromovic Methods Exclusives DVD for $200 pledge back in 2013, and am still waiting for it. mised rewards,” said Andre Manukyan on the project’s comments page. Abramovic had hoped that the arts space, unveiled in 2012, would capture the ephemeral, transitive nature of performance art while still allowing visitors to engage with the building around them. Floor plans released by OMA show several distinct programmatic elements, including a fitness center, library, a learning center, offices and classrooms all situated around a 650-seat central performance space. Ambitious and wide-ranging in scope, the arts center would have mandated a minimum of six-hour “hard-core performance art” tours, where visitors would have surrendered their cellphones and worn white frocks while inside the building. OMA had also been set to design custom fixtures and furniture for the facility, including padded wheelchairs so that staff could ferry tired guests from one room to another. Built in 1929, the vacant theater in Hudson is owned by Abramovic and would have retained the original brick facade and column-flanked entryway under OMA’s proposal.Unused and abandoned, the former community theater now sits unmaintained. Abramovic has told the Post that the building would be put up for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going towards paying off the unpaid school taxes the artist owes for the property.
Architect Daniel Libeskind has collaborated with artist Marina Abramovic on the design of furniture for her upcoming event, "Counting the Rice," which will be staged December 4–7 during Miami Art Basel. The integrated table/bench will be fabricated in concrete by Moroso in a limited edition of 30 pieces. Plywood versions were created for previous performances in Geneva and Milan. While striking in its characteristically angular appearance, we're a little skeptical of the comfort quotient of the seating. Was Libeskind channeling his inner Frank Lloyd Wright, who created famously painful furnishings? Hmmm. But perhaps the nature of the performance provides a clue, here: The event requires participants to sit for at least six hours, counting and sorting grains of rice. Part meditative ritual, part atrophy-inducing experience—at least they will look, if not feel, good. Proceeds from the sale of the tables will be donated to Abramovic's MAI organization, a platform for "immaterial art" and long duration works.
Marina Abramović owes 4,765 hugs to the supporters of her successfully funded $600,000 Kickstarter. Last month, the artist launched the online campaign to fund her own Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) in upstate New York, a performance center conceptualized as a laboratory that will be dedicated to the practice of long-durational performance art and the “Marina Abramović Method.” Project donations ranged from $1 to $10,000 and all donors are invited to receive a personal hug from the artist in a future performance event called “The Embrace.” With help from social media, celebrity interest, and a few encouragements from Abramović herself, the center surpassed its goal by more than $60,000 before the end of its month-long funding period this past Sunday. Designed by OMA’s Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu, the center’s focus is the large hall where Abramović and other performance artists will show six-hour art pieces to an audience donning lab coats. Contracted to stay for the duration, visitors will be trained in the Marina Abramović Method, being led through a variety of sensory exercises in rooms surrounding the great theater space. A few weeks ago, a viral video of pop singer Lady Gaga practicing the Method in the nude raised interest in the MAI campaign. Last month, rapper Jay-Z’s recent six-hour performance of “Picasso Baby” at Pace Gallery in New York City paid homage to Abramović’s 2010 The Artist is Present performance at the Museum of Modern Art. Even the artist herself posted a playful clip, explaining how many long durational performance artists it takes to screw in a lightbulb. With celebrity support and interest generated through Abramović's #whyMAI blog and Reddit Q&A sessions, this unique vision is now on course to be realized. Overall, the Kickstarter campaign raised $661,452 and MAI became the largest cultural institution to be funded in this way. Soon, OMA will begin to transform a 29,000-square-foot former theater in Hudson, New York, into an institute devoted solely to long durational performance art, definitely the first of its kind.
The clock is currently ticking on fundraising for Marina Abramović’s proposed Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI), a performance art center designed by Rem Koolhaas' OMA. The facility is planned to be set in a former theater in Hudson, New York. On July 26th, the artist launched a $600 thousand Kickstarter campaign to fund the institute she hopes will develop new forms of the long durational—six hours or more—performance art she is famous for. Abramović has teamed with OMA architects Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas to gut the current building and design a multi-level, multi-room performance hall in which visitors will stay for a minimum of six hours (as signed by contract upon entrance). With the Kickstarter campaign fundraising goal, which must be fulfilled by August 25th, the team will transform the building's state of disrepair into a conceptualized laboratory: a performance and education space where visitors will wear white lab coats and participate in the Marina Abramović Method of durational performance art. The artist means for MAI to become a center of interaction across topics, “foster[ing] collaborations between art, science, technology, and spirituality, bringing those fields into conversation” and her designing architects have taken the mission to heart. For the New York Times Art Beat last year, Shigematsu said he and Koolhaas planned on “creating a one-of-a-kind typology” for MAI’s less than typical theater program. In the Abramović Method, participants become the art they simultaneously view. The current OMA architectural models their interpretation of Abramović's unique vision. OMA plans specifically-purposed rooms surrounding the central performance space, which will be visible throughout the facility. Abramović believes the institute fills a current void in the art world as a place for people to satisfy their “immense desire to slow down and connect to themselves and to one another in a live setting.” She hopes that MAI will show the work of several long durational performance artists across a variety of genres.
What makes the performing arts so thrilling is also what makes them so elusive—they are, by nature, ephemeral. Any documentation of a performance is only a pale reflection of what it's like to be there in the moment. So when performance artist Marina Abramovic began to contemplate what her own legacy would be, she thought beyond biographies, retrospectives, or monuments and instead began to develop a method of generating the kind of experiences she valued, one that would allow her kind of performances to continue long after the artist was no longer present. Starting in late 2014, "long duration" (six hours plus) performance pieces as well as facilities intended to initiate the public into performance art will be housed in the Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) in Hudson, New York. The institute will occupy an old 20,000 square-foot theater that was purchased by Abramovic in 2007 and whose interior is being redesigned by Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas of OMA. At Monday's press preview held at MoMA P.S. 1 in Queens, Shigematsu compared the concept for the institute to the experience of attending a baseball game (which, he noted, can be "long and sometimes very boring"), where the main spectacle unfolds below on the field but plenty of equally engaging activities happen at the same time in and around the grandstands. OMA will leave the theater's 1929 brick facade and colonnaded entry but create a new box inside that functions as a central performance space with 650 seats. Wrapping around it will be a fitness space, a library, and classrooms, along with rooms dedicated to meditation, levitation (powered by magnets), and crystals (which Abramovic believes are "like regenerators for people"). The key feature of OMA's design is that all these spaces are visually connected back to the center, creating a series of layers that blur the boundaries between audience and performer. In fact, every visitor to MAI will become a performer of sorts, signing on for a minimum visit of six hours that requires donning a white lab coat and participating in a series of instructive experiences on what Abramovic terms "hard-core performance art." The artist calls this "The Abramovic Method,"—"I feel like I've become a brand," she said—and through it she has made her evolution into an institution it's own kind of performance. Realizing that this level of engagement may require not only an open mind but also some endurance training, Abramovic and OMA have invented a kind of wheeled lounge chair in which visitors can rest, nap, and be rolled by staff to different levels of facility along a giant spiral ramp (a cafe is planned for the rooftop). Given the sanatorium-style atmosphere that is part Magic Mountain and part Eleusinian mysteries some guests may never want their performance to end. But to realize this vision for MAI, Abramovic must first raise at least $15 million and is now beginning a fundraising tour.