The Top 3 Things I Learned from Marina Abramović’s Artist’s Manifesto

 

marina1

6 min read

It’s Bali, 2014. My villa walls are filled to the brim; there is paper in every square inch.

On one wall, I had handwritten Marina Abramović’s An Artist’s Manifesto, on the other, I was working on poetry and a long personal essay. I had been listening to Abramović’s talks as my bedtime routine, and waking up to her voice. Without a lover, I had more space to devote myself to her, to sponge up everything I could in the hours I wasn’t writing.

I’ve been in an on/off again relationship with Abramović’s work for maybe a decade, and I particularly love An Artist’s Manifesto. Here’s what I learned from this particular piece of work—the rest is up to you to explore (which I recommend, because there’s much to be found.)

1. Depression is not sexy, helpful, or necessary for an artist’s life. This idea is always important for me to hang on to—while depression ceases to visit me as much as it once did, having a passionate, emotional artist remind you that you don’t need it in order to be a successful artist is like a drop of freedom.

2. Becoming more and more of who you are and less and less of who you’re not, while becoming more universal, is part of the artist’s/writer’s life purpose. Arrogance out, integrity in.

3. Solitude is a must for artists & writers. Solitude brings us back to who we really are. Solitude is paramount to returning back to a state of receptivity. And solitude in nature brings the artist back into balance with her own understanding of right-sizeness. 
Not too big, not too small—knowing the paradox of how important and insignificant you are.

Without further adieu…

Marina Abramović’s An Artist’s Manifesto

(Here’s the video if you’d rather watch)

 An artist’s conduct in his life:

An artist should not lie to himself or others

An artist should not steal ideas from other artists

An artist should not compromise for themselves or in regards to the art market

An artist should not kill other human beings

An artist should not make themselves into an idol

An artist should not make themselves into an idol

An artist should not make themselves into an idol


An artist’s relation to his love life:

An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist

An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist

An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist


An artist’s relation to the erotic:

An artist should develop an erotic point of view on the world

An artist should be erotic

An artist should be erotic

An artist should be erotic


An artist’s relation to suffering:

An artist should suffer

From the suffering comes the best work

Suffering brings transformation

Through the suffering an artist transcends their spirit

Through the suffering an artist transcends their spirit

Through the suffering an artist transcends their spirit


An artist’s relation to depression:

An artist should not be depressed

Depression is a disease and should be cured

Depression is not productive for an artist

Depression is not productive for an artist

Depression is not productive for an artist


An artist’s relation to suicide:

Suicide is a crime against life

An artist should not commit suicide

An artist should not commit suicide

An artist should not commit suicide

 

An artist’s relation to inspiration:

An artist should look deep inside themselves for inspiration

The deeper they look inside themselves, the more universal they become

The artist is universe

The artist is universe

The artist is universe


An artist’s relation to self-control:

The artist should not have self-control about his life

The artist should have total self-control about his work

The artist should not have self-control about his life

The artist should have total self-control about his work


An artist’s relation 
with transparency:

The artist should give and receive at the same time

Transparency means receptive

Transparency means to give

Transparency means to receive

Transparency means receptive

Transparency means to give

Transparency means to receive

Transparency means receptive

Transparency means to give

Transparency means to receive


An artist’s relation to symbols:

An artist creates his own symbols

Symbols are an artist’s language

The language must then be translated

Sometimes it is difficult to find the key

Sometimes it is difficult to find the key

Sometimes it is difficult to find the key


An artist’s relation to silence:

An artist has to understand silence

An artist has to create a space for silence to enter his work

Silence is like an island in the middle of a turbulent ocean

Silence is like an island in the middle of a turbulent ocean

Silence is like an island in the middle of a turbulent ocean


An artist’s relation to solitude:

An artist must make time for the long periods of solitude

Solitude is extremely important

Away from home

Away from the studio

Away from family

Away from friends

An artist should stay for long periods of time at waterfalls

An artist should stay for long periods of time at exploding volcanoes

An artist should stay for long periods of time looking at the fast running rivers

An artist should stay for long periods of time looking at the horizon where the ocean and sky meet

An artist should stay for long periods of time looking at the stars in the night sky


An artist’s conduct in relation to work:

An artist should avoid going to the studio every day

An artist should not treat his work schedule as a bank employee does

An artist should explore life and work only when an idea comes to him in a dream or during the day as a vision that arises as a surprise

An artist should not repeat himself

An artist should not overproduce

An artist should avoid his own art pollution

An artist should avoid his own art pollution

An artist should avoid his own art pollution

An artist’s possessions:

Buddhist monks advise that it is best to have nine possessions in their life:

1 robe for the summer

1 robe for the winter

1 pair of shoes

1 begging bowl for food

1 mosquito net

1 prayer book

1 umbrella

1 mat to sleep on

1 pair of glasses if needed

An artist should decide for himself the minimum personal possessions they should have

An artist should have more and more of less and less

An artist should have more and more of less and less

An artist should have more and more of less and less

 

A list of an artist’s friends:

An artist should have friends that lift their spirits

An artist should have friends that lift their spirits

An artist should have friends that lift their spirits

 

A list of an artist’s enemies:

Enemies are very important

The Dalai Lama has said that it is easy to have compassion with friends but much more difficult to have compassion with enemies

An artist has to learn to forgive

An artist has to learn to forgive

An artist has to learn to forgive

 

Different death scenarios:

An artist has to be aware of his own mortality

For an artist, it is not only important how he lives his life but also how he dies

An artist should look at the symbols of his work for the signs of different death scenarios

An artist should die consciously without fear

An artist should die consciously without fear

An artist should die consciously without fear

 

Different funeral scenarios:

An artist should give instructions before the funeral so that everything is done the way he wants it

The funeral is the artist’s last art piece before leaving

The funeral is the artist’s last art piece before leaving

The funeral is the artist’s last art piece before leaving

I’ve been conducting interviews with artist’s, writer’s and activists—I’m so excited to share these brave people and their words of wisdom with you. Want to be featured? Drop me a line.

Stay tuned for that and more, misfits.

In Love & Solidarity,
Laura V.