And for good reasons: In her latest three-fold grand project, Seven Deaths, which marks the culmination of her passion for the great diva Maria Callas, Abramović enacts the singer's untimely demises both in a live opera – 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, currently touring across Europe – and in a video installation, to the soundtrack of seven of Callas' best-known arias.
Those events coincide with an exhibition of alabaster sculptures of Marina performing Callas' characters in their final solo moments.
Abramović became fascinated by Callas at a young age.
'My passion for Maria Callas started when I was 14 years old,' Abramović tells us.'I heard her in my grandmother's kitchen and started to cry. I didn't know why, the voice was so emotional to me.'
As she grew older, she found in Callas' life, with its mixture of strength, vulnerability, curse and personal despair, an echo of some aspects of her own.
'Maria Callas was so strong on stage and so unhappy and lonely in life. And she died for love. In my case, I was so much in love it almost killed me but then my work saved me. But her work actually didn't help her to survive. I kind of blame her for this. When you have so much talent as she had, you are not allowed to give up, because this talent doesn't only belong to you, it belongs to all of us.'
Indeed Abramović is not easily defeated. During the presentation, the grandmother of performance art is slightly breathless but she emanates strength and calm energy. I am reminded of her love story with fellow artist Ulay and their famous staged separation on the Great Wall of China in 1988: the two artists both trekked for more than 2,000 kilometres from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China to meet in the middle. Abramovic nearly died during the walk and was in tears when they finally met.
'I never give up. If you say no to me, it is only the beginning,' she says mischievously.
If she is finished with dying, she is not afraid to die. Asked about her well-planned funeral to be staged in three different cities at the same time – no one would know which one would be the real one – she says guests would be requested to dress in bright colours, there would be music, great food and lots of drugs.
'You should have a good life and good death at the same time. I want to die conscious, without fears and without anger and I think you enjoy life so much more when you enjoy the plurality of human beings.'
Forget about Covid and the long hours spent on Zoom and Instagram, it's time for performance art. Bring it on, Marina, we missed you!
Marina Abramović's Seven Deaths opens at the Lisson Gallery on Tuesday 14 September.
You can see the Alabaster Sculptures on Cork Street and the video installation on Lisson Street.
|What||Marina Abramović: Seven Deaths, Lisson Gallery|
|Where||Lisson Gallery, 67 Lisson Street, London, NW15BY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Edgware Road (underground)|
14 Sep 21 – 30 Oct 21, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|