Marina Abramovic in Brazil: The Space in Between
Marina Abramovic, Joao De Deus, Andy Grace
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…something of a visual treat, even when the content is less than enthralling.
This film documents a Brazilian journey in which the Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic attempts to find spiritual fulfillment by, among other things, “stopping thinking in order to experience”. It would be easy to simply sneer at some of the more irrational aspects of this odyssey, were it not for her obvious sincerity, intelligence and big-heartedness.
In any case, the striking iconography, strange ceremonies and exotic landscapes featured here make this something of a visual treat, even when the content is less than enthralling. The sub-title refers, incidentally, to the potentially creative point when you are “leaving old habits, open to destiny and new ideas”. Abramovic visits a healing centre, witnesses some gruesome amateur surgery, talks to an amazingly sprightly centenarian, and wanders remote areas of the country in a manner befitting a self-described “modern nomad”.
Marina Abramovic… has its longueurs, but it definitely has its moments too, perhaps the most dramatic being the first time she has a dose of the powerful psychoactive drug ayahuasca (aka yage), and a very hefty one at that; the experience is unrelievedly nightmarish. There are a couple of interesting autobiographical revelations too, and the occasional sharp observation.
Abramovic compares ritual to performance, for example, and points out that in both cases there is a transformation and “you’re not the same afterwards”.
Most of the trip is to remote rural areas of Brazil – although there’s also a brief scene in Sao Paulo – but Abramovic argues that nature “doesn’t need art” and that in fact cities are where it’s indispensable. She may have a point there.