Most recently I have finished what is probably my favourite book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Around about a month ago I was in Waterstones and decided to treat myself to a £20 hard back copy of Walk Through Walls; A Memoir by Marina Abramović.
Abramović is a performance artist, now age 70, whom I have come to admire and love since learning about her just a year ago as a fresher at art school. Being an artist of traditional methods I was completely unsure about performance art altogether and unwilling to learn about it until this woman changed my mind with her piece The Artist is Present. I instantly fell in love with her work and was thrilled to find out she had written a new book with which I could learn about every step of her life and practice on the way to her success.
Abramović begins by setting out the contextual setting of her childhood, a wealthy communist family in Yugoslavia. Growing up was incredibly tough for her because of this, her strained relationship with her mother, her awareness of her own body and her love for art.
The artist is truthful in such a beautiful way with this book. She doesn’t dress things up, she tells it how it was. I also noticed she doesn’t paint herself or the people around her in a good light simply because they were friends. She states their flaws but gives them credit where it is due, like she does with herself. It helped me, as a reader,to feel closer to understanding the author. The language used is also very blunt and to the point, giving the book a fast pace. I both liked, and disliked this at times as I often found it hard to keep up with the crazy amount of people mentioned and often got people confused.
I liked how the book was both factual and spiritual. Ambramović is a very spiritual person,often getting help from biggest monks or tribes to aid her work. This eventually leads to what she calls the Ambramović method, a method which is taught and used by the artist to prepare and perform the art. This greatly contrasted the factual information such as the work. In the book Abramović talks of almost all her performances over the years and her thinking and feeling behind them which is great to read as an art student as it got me thinking about my own artwork and what I want to do. Photos were also included of most pieces with the relevant information to help illustrate what the author was saying. The book also had some colour photo pages which I liked but would rather have at the end as they often interrupted sentences.
Overall, I found this was a serious page-turner and I would suggest everyone read it. Abramović gets such a bad name because people don’t take the time to learn about and understand her work and this book helps form so many different opinions. It’s educational and just generally a great read which will make you delve right into your soul and get you thinking about the meaning of just about everything.
The best £20 I’ve ever spent!