My Review: Walk through Walls by Marina Abramović

Probably the best memoir I've read in recent years. 

When I picked up Walk through Walls on a random recommendation at The Met Breuer's gift shop, I knew Abramović only vaguely as the performance artist who was reportedly reunited with a former lover during a MoMA event that involved her staring into visitors' eyes for days on days on days.

Abramović's story is an ode to the grit and perseverance (hence the title) that's needed to build success over the many, many years it takes to get there. Of course Abramović chose a career that's grittier than most of ours - it requires her to regularly go without food or movement, and to physically harm herself, all in the name of (performance) art - but the requirements for success are surprisingly similar. Yet don't be fooled - not all unyielding talented young artists were positioned to encounter the same luck as Abramović; after all, she was born into the culturally elite Red Bourgeois ruling class of Yugoslavia to gritty survivors/war heroes (Abramović fashioned her father as somewhat of Tito's left-hand man!) that loved and encouraged art. As a former Eastern Bloc-er myself, I have an acute appreciation for all this.

This memoir is as much about stark loss, bleak heartbreak and bad patterns, as it is about casual references to Björk and Susan Sontag.

More important than the chronology of her becoming, the Abramović memoir is about art. Bad art is aesthetic. Good art is art in context. Good art is transformative. Good art is immaterial. I wonder what Abramović thinks of Kendrick's rapidly iconic Humble - I'm so sick and tired of the Photoshop/Show me something natural. 

We're all getting on the same page here.