Pioneering performance artist Marina Abramovic (b. 1946, Belgrade, lives and works in New York) presents a new site-specific performance-based work at Modern Art Oxford exploring heightened awareness and transitional states of being. For Gates and Portals, the gallery will become a site of passage where visitors move between different states of consciousness, and themselves become the performers. Abramovic’s concept for this exhibition was developed during her research residency at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford in summer 2021.
In the new exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, visitors are invited in small groups to respond to the artist’s structures and her instructions for the duration of the event. A gate and a portal prompt visitors to experience physical and spiritual transition – the gate enables the entrance from one world to another and conditions the body to be receptive to the portal, whereas the portal offers visitors the possibility of a higher state of consciousness. These sites of transition have strong associations with Tibetan Buddhism and are also present in Hinduism and other religious practices originating in Asia and beyond.
Abramovic has said of the exhibition:
The simple reason why this new show at Modern Art Oxford is very important is that it’s the most minimal and the most radical conceptually I ever made until now … I’m happy about this because I want my entire concentration to be on the visitor and how they’re going to perceive this work. Normally visitors to museums never have any kind of demands made of them; they come, they see the work, they go. They’re silent witnesses and they’re passing by. In my case, here the visitors are not silent witnesses, they’re part of the show and they participate in the show. Their experience with the object is the artwork itself, without that experience the objects are empty.
Gates and Portals is the second major Abramovic exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, developed in partnership with the Pitt Rivers Museum. The first, Marina Abramovic: Objects Performance Video Sound (1995), included her now famous work, ‘Cleaning the Mirror’, which was created and exhibited as part of Abramovic’s residency at the Pitt Rivers Museum. Once again, the Modern Art Oxford exhibition will be complemented by a case installation of a film and new drawings by Abramovic at the Pitt Rivers Museum, alongside selected objects from their collection.
Marina Abramovic: Gates and Portals Modern Art Oxford: 24th September 2022 – 5th March 2023
Marina Abramovic: Gates and Portals is curated by Amy Budd, Curator, Projects and Exhibition and Emma Ridgway, Chief Curator, Head of Exhibitions and Learning at Modern Art Oxford. The installation at the Pitt Rivers Museum is curated by Professor Clare Harris. Accompanying the
exhibition will be a publication, co-designed by Abramovi?, focusing on spiritual practice in relation to long durational performance, and the significance of portals and gates throughout history and cultures, published by Koenig Books. The artist collaborated with Factum Arte, in particular Adam Lowe, to produce a major new artwork in the exhibition at Modern Art Oxford