Marina Abramović Will Restage Her Iconic ‘The Artist Is Present’ Performance To Benefit Ukraine

Marina Abramovic Ukraine Auction

Photo: Sean Kelly

Legendary performance artist Marina Abramović is staging her seminal The Artist Is Present installation. And this time, people will have the opportunity to bid and become part of the performance in an effort to raise funds for Ukraine. Together with New York's Sean Kelly Gallery, Artsy, and photographer Marco Anelli, Abramović is holding an auction to join her in this performance.

The Artist Is Present was originally held at New York's MoMA in 2010 during a retrospective of Abramović's career. For 716- and-a-half hours she sat at a table and locked eyes with visitors who sat before her for nearly three months. Each person was photographed by Anelli, her longtime photographer. Now, thanks to this special auction, three new visitors will get this opportunity.

The online auction, which is being held on Artsy, has two separate experiences. One is to be photographed alone with Abramović and the other is for two people to sit at the table with the Serbian artist. Once again, Anelli will be present to photograph each sitting. The auction winners will receive a framed copy of this photograph signed by Abramović and Anelli. They will also receive a signed copy of Anelli's book, Portraits in the Presence of Marina Abramović, which contains all 1,545 portraits from the MoMA performance.

All proceeds from the auction will go to Direct Relief‘s emergency response to the Ukraine invasion.

Abramović worked in Ukraine last year, with her Crystal Wall of Crying erected at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv. She was quick to denounce Russia's action in a video message published shortly after the invasion began. “I have full solidarity with them on this impossible day,” she says in the video. “An attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on humanity and has to be stopped.”

Currently, Sean Kelly is holding a retrospective of Abramović's work. When two gallery employees came up with the idea for an auction to benefit Ukraine, the artist was enthusiastic. In a short time, they were able to pull the event together. “We felt we needed to do something fast,” Kelly shares. “We just feel it’s a huge imperative to get money into people’s hands as quickly as possible.”

The Artist Is Present: A Benefit Auction for Ukraine is open for bids exclusively on Artsy until March 25. In addition, Sean Kelly has also organized a GoFundMe for donations to Direct Relief.

Marina Abramović is auctioning participation in her historic performance The Artist Is Present to raise funds for Ukraine.

The Artist Is Present by Marina Abramović

Photo: Shelby Lessig via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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