Marina Abramović is one of the world’s foremost performance artists, largely regarded as a pioneer of her field. Abramović was born in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia. She trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade from 1965 to 1970, before going on to complete her post-graduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia in 1972.
Over the two decades that followed, Abramović went on to work as an educator at a number of institutions. She first lectured at the Academy of Fine Arts at Novi Sad, Serbia between 1973 and 1975. Between 1990 and 1996 she acted as a visiting professor at the following universities: the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris; the Berlin University of the Arts and the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg. From 1997 to 2004 she was a professor for performance-art at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Braunschweig, Germany. In 2007, Abramović founded the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), a non-profit foundation for performance art which travels to venues around the world.
Abramović performed her debut piece Rhythm 10 in Edinburgh in 1973. In the work, the artist played the Russian game wherein she jabbed a knife between her splayed fingers. Like in this work, much of Abramović’s practice is centered on themes of duration, pain, danger and exhaustion, working to extremes. Critical to her performances is her audience and the relationship between the performer and the audience. This was highlighted in 2010 with her most famous performance, The Artist is Present at MOMA, New York where, over the course of three months, the artist sat across a table with individual audience members for eight hours a day.
The Artist is Present formed part of a major retrospective exhibition of the same name, curated by the celebrated curator Klaus Biesenbach. The show was the biggest exhibition of performance art in MOMA's history. Abramović also exhibited at Documenta in 1977, 1982, and 1992 and at the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1997, where she was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist. In addition to her lengthy resume of exhibitions and awards, the artist has also authored numerous books to great acclaim.