Marina Abramović owes 4,765 hugs to the supporters of her successfully funded $600,000 Kickstarter. Last month, the artist launched the online campaign to fund her own Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) in upstate New York, a performance center conceptualized as a laboratory that will be dedicated to the practice of long-durational performance art and the “Marina Abramović Method.” Project donations ranged from $1 to $10,000 and all donors are invited to receive a personal hug from the artist in a future performance event called “The Embrace.” With help from social media, celebrity interest, and a few encouragements from Abramović herself, the center surpassed its goal by more than $60,000 before the end of its month-long funding period this past Sunday.
What makes the performing arts so thrilling is also what makes them so elusive—they are, by nature, ephemeral. Any documentation of a performance is only a pale reflection of what it’s like to be there in the moment. So when performance artist Marina Abramovic began to contemplate what her own legacy would be, she thought beyond biographies, retrospectives, or monuments and instead began to develop a method of generating the kind of experiences she valued, one that would allow her kind of performances to continue long after the artist was no longer present.
Starting in late 2014, “long duration” (six hours plus) performance pieces as well as facilities intended to initiate the public into performance art will be housed in the Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) in Hudson, New York. The institute will occupy an old 20,000 square-foot theater that was purchased by Abramovic in 2007 and whose interior is being redesigned by Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas of OMA.