A much-anticipated exhibition of the Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic has been confirmed at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) in London. The show, which was originally due to open in September 2020, was first postponed to autumn 2021 due to the pandemic, before being rescheduled again. It will now open 23 September-10 December 2023.
The “performative and participatory elements” meant it was difficult to programme the show when potential Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions were still likely. “It became clear that autumn ’21 was still a potential risk, so to mitigate that risk, we decided to reprogramme it two years later when we felt we could be reasonably certain we could present the exhibition as we and the artist had originally intended,” says a spokesperson.
The exhibition will be the artist’s first major retrospective in the UK and follows similar blockbuster shows given to major contemporary artists in the RA’s main galleries, including Anish Kapoor in 2009, David Hockney in 2012 and Antony Gormley in 2019. The exhibition will feature more than 50 works including photographs, videos, objects, installations and so-called “re-performances”, where some of Abramovic’s previous performances will be carried out by younger performers.
Abramovic is famed for her durational and sometimes risky performances such as Rhythm 0 (1974) where visitors were invited to do whatever they wanted to the artist using one of 72 objects laid out on a table, which included a feather, a flower, some wine, a scalpel and even a loaded gun. Another of her most talked about performances, which was spun off into a feature-length documentary, was The Artist Is Present (2010). Visitors could take turns sitting opposite Abramovic, who sat silently at a table for eight hours a day during the three-month run of her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exact works that will feature in the RA show are yet to be revealed.
The RA also announced the rest of its 2023 schedule, which will kick off with an exhibition of Spanish and Latin American works from New York’s Hispanic Society Museum & Library (Spain and the Hispanic World, 21 January-10 April 2023), which will include paintings by El Greco, Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Goya. Textiles from the quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend will be one of the highlights of a show of Black artists from the American South (Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers, 17 March-18 June 2023), which will also include pieces by artists including Thornton Dial, Hawkins Bolden and Bessie Harvey. The Swiss architectural practice Herzog & de Meuron, whose £135m Royal College of Art campus was unveiled this week, will be the subject of a show exploring more than 40 years of its designs (Herzog & de Meuron, 14 July-15 October 2023). The year will be rounded off with a survey of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works on paper that will including pieces by Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh (Impressionists on Paper, 25 November 2023-10 March 2024).