Marina Abramovic Does Not Fear Death, Would Not Use James Franco's Terminology

by Ross Kenneth Urken · December 9, 2010

At Rob Pruitt's 2010 Art Awards last night, Marina Abramovic mused on James Franco's "Asshole" performance and her own death.

Soon after the actor finished his duet with performance artist Kalup Linzy, during which they sang about anal sex, I considered what Marina Abramovich's reaction would be. I wondered whether the Serbian blue-chip artist, notorious for her own shocking pieces and famous of late for sitting in silence for over  700 hours at MoMA for her "The Artist is Present Show," would take a Franconian approach in her  performance art.

"Well, I wouldn't have used that terminology," she said of  "Asshole," before expressing general approval of the show.

The evening commemorated the deaths of some major artists such as Jean-Claude and Louise Bourgeois, but Abramovic was undeterred when discussing her plans for her own funeral. "The Life And Death of  Marina Abramovic," a play by Robert Wilson that chronicles the fictionalized demise of the performance artist, will premiere at the Manchester Festival this spring and feature acting from Willem Defoe.

Does Abramovic fear death?

"I used to," she said. "But by confronting it in art, I do not any more."

Abramovic's life will be re-written in the play as if in a continual theatrical Samsara. Her comfort with the thanatological stems from her own belief that death does not mark a finality.

"I believe in the after-life, all of that, reincarnation," she said.