kunstaspekte interview (2011) with Marina Abramovic
concerning the presentation of the project MACCOC - Marina Abramovic Community Center Obod Cetinje on the Biennale Venezia.
The interviewer was Lothar Frangenberg

The "MACCOC - Marina Abramovic Community Center Obod Cetinje" will be a place for the production, presentation, distribution and development of different art forms: Performance art & Visual arts, Film & Video, Music & Opera, Theatre & Dance, and a space in which to foster interest in Architecture, Science & New technologies. Center will also be engaged in Social & Educational programs, Cooperation & Networking, Ecology, Local Community Building. Center is also planned to have MACCO Collection, MACCO Library, MACCO Mediateque & Archive, MACCO Publications and provide different Services like space rentals.

Lothar Frangenberg: How did you choose this place in a small town in South-Eastern Europe? If it had to be former Yugoslavia, would the Serbian capital of Belgrade not have been the more explosive place, as it is more provoking and thus more effective?

Marina Abramovic: First of all I didn't choose the place, it was given to me, and there is lots of background. Because my mother and father both come from Montenegro, and it's really kind of connected to my roots, the Minister of Culture of Montenegro connected this fridge factory, Obod, to me. He offered to let me put my name on it and for me to create a concept for this really unique place. I felt like this was a great honor, and of course I accepted.

L. F.: In Cetinje in future, would you not have to fear an incoming flow of seaside holiday makers as visitors, with all their haste and inattentiveness? Politicians and investors are certainly interested in the Art Center becoming an attraction for tourists as this would stimulate the economy. Are you now protesting against these demands?

M. A.: Absolutely not, I'm actually supporting it. The reality is that after Obod stopped working, 8000 people were out of jobs, which actually created a huge amount of unemployment, and even today, 70% of the citizens of Cetinje are unemployed. I hope that creating a cultural center with this kind of dimensions will change that and I hope that it will have the same affect that the creation of the Guggenheim Bilbao did. Art belongs to large amounts of the public.

L. F.: Are you directly interested in political changes of your former European home country? In an interview with Klaus Biesenbach you said that you were not a political artist. (Phaidon Press Limited, London/New York 2008) Yet, you are surely a politically minded person? Are there any limits for you in how far artists are supposed to engage in political and social issues?

M. A.: I think it's very important to see what are you in the first place. I chose to be an artist not a politician and my work has different layers. Definitely one layer could be political but it's not all. So I'm not focusing on one thing. I'm trying through my work to raise awareness of different issues at different times.

L. F.: Would you like to describe to us which role you will assume within the MACCOC? Will it be similar to the theatre play "The Life and Death of Marina Abramovi? ", where, unlike your performances, you consciously pass on the responsibility to others and thus, in an act of distancing, hand over your control?

M. A.: No it's not going to be like that. I would like that MACCOC have many diverse functions. It occupies such a large space that there truly is the possibility of many simultaneous activities with different forms of performing arts. For example, I would really like for it to accommodate a fully working film and post-production studio. Independent films are a huge passion for me, and they cannot be sustained by Hollywood. Apart from the film industry, I envision theater rehearsal spaces, with modern equipment so that international theater productions can come and make new pieces. And then a music hall, cinema, and the theater, video, space where different installations can be shown, produced at the location, different lecture halls, which can address not just art but new science and new technology. I mean, I am thinking really big. Also, in the complex it would be great to have an ice-skating center and places where the young public can meet for both diverse seminars and talks, and also just in these public spaces, to make a community. We also contemplate that a small part of the factory can be still in production. So, of course, I will not be able to manage every detail, but the vision will be mine.

L. F.: How do you mean to create the new institution within the existing factory buildings? Are they conceivable as units, that is, as non-static spaces for acting? The question arises as to how much stability your performances can tolerate. Would a nomadic existence of the building spread out across various rooms and places, a worldwide wandering, be more suitable, complying with your artistic intentions, which again and again focus on the spiritual, intangible and the non-representational?

M. A.: I have lots of ideas concerning the use of the space, but as I am not an architect, I was thinking that it would be very important to invite someone I can trust with a vision, who can produce a master plan. At the moment I am negotiating with Rem Koolhaas and OMA, who in my mind are the right people who can develop a multi-purpose concept as they have already done in the past.

L. F.: Is it correct that painting and sculpture as artistic genres will not play a role when setting up the Art Center? You describe painting within your artistic career as a transitional phase of early artistic experiences so as to then enter more open and wider artistic spaces. Many artists, for instance also Jenny Holzer, describe such experiences. Is painting for you as a medium traditionally, representationally and historically too loaded with conventions of all sorts?

M. A.: First of all, I am a performance artist, working with contemporary media and it's been asked to develop concept of MACCOC, this is the concept I am proposing. So probably it would be a very different concept if a painter or sculptor was invited to do it.

L. F.: Apparently you have a distinctive and admirable sense of optimism as regards the effect of art and its influence. Your optimism surely inspires your progress of such projects where the viewers are supposed to be included actively. Does your wish to combine different artistic genres stand for striving for a new "synthesis of the arts", also in terms of social utopias?

M. A.: For me, two very inspiring concepts from the past are Monte Verita and Black Mountain College where the best thinkers, artists, scientists and writers get together and create a new vision of the world. That's my kind of guide and goal. That's my inspiration. I think society at this moment needs that kind of optimism and we need to establish a sense of togetherness with the different disciplines in order to create something new for the society at this moment.

translation: Sophie Andersen __