Marina Abramović, the pioneering Serbian conceptual and performance artist, has not only redefined the boundaries of contemporary art, but also conveys a compelling personal story shaped by her family background.
Born on November 30, 1946 in Belgrade, Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia, Abramović emerged from a lineage deeply entrenched in the complex fabric of Yugoslav history.
Abramović’s parents, Danica Rosić and Vojin Abramović, were both active participants in the Yugoslav Partisans during World War II. Their contributions to the war effort were recognized with the prestigious Order of People’s Heroes, and they were subsequently appointed to positions in the post-war Yugoslav government.
Marina Abramović’s early years were marked by family complexities. She was raised by her grandparents until the age of six and was deeply influenced by her grandmother’s religious rituals. She spent her childhood immersed in church activities.
After being reunited with her parents at the age of six, Abramović immersed herself in a wide range of pursuits, from taking piano, French and English lessons to developing an early interest in art.
However, life in Abramović’s family home proved challenging, characterized by her mother’s strict supervision. Abramović described her childhood, revealing examples of physical punishment and control exerted by her mother.
The oppressive environment extended to her artistic endeavors, with all performances held before 10:00 at night due to the strict curfew restrictions imposed by her mother.
In a 2013 interview, Abramović candidly discussed her parents’ troubled marriage, highlighting a particularly poignant incident from her childhood. She recounted an episode in which her father smashed twelve champagne glasses and left the house, characterizing this as “the most terrible moment” of her childhood.
Marina Abramović’s journey as an artist and the contours of her personal history are intertwined with the complexities of her family dynamics. From her grandmother’s religious influences to her parents’ political contributions, Abramović’s upbringing laid the foundation for an artist who would challenge conventions and redefine the essence of performance art.