Kaunas, the European Capital of Culture for 2022 hosted the renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic and her brand new, unique exhibition “Memory of Being” on the 30th of March this year.
The exhibition, initiated by Meno Parkas Gallery, is one of the most important and ambitious events of Kaunas 2022, where it presents in detail the work of the contemporary art icon from the 1960s to the present day. Several of her works have been exhibited all around the world, with “The Cleaner”, “Rhythm”, “Nude with Skeleton” and “The Hero” being some of her most famous art collections.
Yet all of these have created questions in regard to her art: Could we speak about art pieces in the art of Marina Abramovic? What is a piece in her art? Photographs of her performances? These are the sorts of questions that Abramovic tries to answer among others in “Memory of Being”.
Abramović uses “memory of being'' to highlight the limitations of our bodies, inviting the audience to test the limits of their physical and mental endurance. This is a common theme throughout her artworks, as she says when you look at art “everything happens in your mind, it’s not object related, but in the mind”. This is partly the reason why Abramovic uses different types of performances in her collections, with videos, audio and touch stimulating all of your senses. In particular, one of Abramovic’s previous collaborations with Ulay, “Rest Energy”, showcases this use of senses by attaching microphones to the artist's chest to hear real sounds of their hearts beating.
Arvydas Zalpys, the director of Meno Parkas Gallery and one of the curators of “Memory of Being” believes that Abramovic’s work has had a positive impact on the worldview of Lithuania, as “it symbolised a brave pursuit of liberty, surpassing fear and established clichés, as well as an unconstrained expression of the artists identity”. It is why Abramovic utilises the confluence of the meeting between the audience and the author. The “grandmother of performance art” certainly moved the boundaries of contemporary art in general, not only those of performance art.