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Walk Through Walls: A Memoir

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“I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.” In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performa “I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.” In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature. The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito’s regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother’s abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor—all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story—a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe—a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China. Marina’s story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, informs an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.


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“I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.” In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performa “I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.” In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature. The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito’s regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother’s abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor—all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story—a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe—a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China. Marina’s story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, informs an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.

30 review for Walk Through Walls: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I don't even have words for how much I adored this book. (My one-word Goodreads review before I finishing gathering my thoughts was just 'Perfection'.) Let's get this out of the way: Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović is a controversial figure, and much as I'd love to shove her ghostwritten memoir into everyone's hands, I must admit that there are plenty of people who will remain thoroughly unmoved by it, and that's completely fine. But I also want to clarify that I don't think it's ess I don't even have words for how much I adored this book. (My one-word Goodreads review before I finishing gathering my thoughts was just 'Perfection'.) Let's get this out of the way: Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović is a controversial figure, and much as I'd love to shove her ghostwritten memoir into everyone's hands, I must admit that there are plenty of people who will remain thoroughly unmoved by it, and that's completely fine. But I also want to clarify that I don't think it's essential for a reader to love or understand or even be familiar with her art in order to appreciate this. The best thing to be while picking up this book is open-minded. Personally I love contemporary art, I love performance art, and I love Marina Abramović, so this was always going to work for me. But it still managed to exceed my expectations; I think I was anticipating entertaining and instead I got revelatory. I did study Art History in college and am hardly a stranger to thinking critically about what art is, so I wasn't expecting my perception of that question to be so shaken by Abramović's perspective. Art and life are fundamentally inextricable concepts to her, which she explores throughout her career in a series of daring, unconventional performance pieces, which are chronicled in this book with vividly descriptive imagery. This book, as well as Marina's career, is a testament to her unbelievable ability to push her body to its limits, and using her own physicality to connect with her audience. The way her performances build upon and interact with one another is delineated here with clarity: I genuinely feel enriched from this new understanding I have of her work and what she has tried, and has succeeded, to achieve. Even outside of her art (though she would probably frown upon making this distinction), Marina's life is a constant source of fascination. This reads more like autobiography than memoir, as it's heavy on fact and chronology and light on emotional analysis, but this isn't a criticism. Marina is presented in this book as an open, vulnerable figure, her methods and ideology made accessible through a thorough excavation of her life, from childhood to present day. If you're interested in Marina Abramović but aren't a big nonfiction reader, the novel The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose is a brilliant depiction of her 2010 show The Artist is Present. Otherwise, I really couldn't recommend Walk Through Walls: A Memoir highly enough.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Henk

    An impressive tale of how the performance artist became present in the art world and the broader society. This book makes you want to be an artist, minus the abusive childhood. - 3,5 stars Childhood, budding artistry and a Great Love (and Wall) Walk Through Walls: A Memoir starts chatty and up close, like boom and the story starts with the childhood of Marina Abramović, in communist Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Marina has privilege as a daughter of war heroes, growing up amongst books and art in the lusci An impressive tale of how the performance artist became present in the art world and the broader society. This book makes you want to be an artist, minus the abusive childhood. - 3,5 stars Childhood, budding artistry and a Great Love (and Wall) Walk Through Walls: A Memoir starts chatty and up close, like boom and the story starts with the childhood of Marina Abramović, in communist Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Marina has privilege as a daughter of war heroes, growing up amongst books and art in the luscious apartment that was confiscated from jews during the war. Marina grew up at her grandmother, with her parents in high up party roles. Physical punishment, boys being more important and growing up with maids being more present than her quarreling parents, come back a lot in the first chapters. At six, when she needed to spend almost a year in a hospital due to a blood disease, she describes this time as the best of her life. Her father was notorious for his love for women and named her after a Russian soldier who was blown up in front of him. Her mother not just beat her, but loved order so much she woke Marina up at night when she slept to messy and crumpled the sheet. From her childhood and love for art we soon have Marina join a student art centre, exponent from the 1968 student uprisings. Here she discovers the Arte Povera and performance art. The Rhytm series, full of knives and taking the body to the extreme, is impressive. Especially the violence that ensues from the cultured group in Rhytm 0 makes you feel Abramovic uncovered something essential of human nature. And then Marina meets Ulay in Amsterdam. Already from the start Abramovic indicates the feeling of their relationship being special and their performance are visceral and bordering on crazy in terms of demands on their bodies. There are idyllic stories of travelling Europe and the US in a car and crazy life stories of eccentric friends they live with in an Amsterdam warehouse. Amsterdam in general (also as one of the three cities, together with New York and Belgrade she wants to have a grave as part of her "final performance") comes back a lot, as does the Dutch government as sponsor of her arts and art centres like De Appel and the Holland Festival. Nice to see how our small country helped the rise of an artist so iconic to the performance arts. Rest Energy is a poetic performance of Ulay and Marina holding a bow, literally giving one’s life in another’s hands and the story of the Great Wall of China walk is breathtaking, how from a wild idea this is in the end made real, but also signals the end of the relationship between the duo. Spirituality, far away places and success Spirituality is very important to Marina, already in her youth we have stories that she sees ghosts in closets and at key decisions she goes to soothsayers and flips coins for answers. At the aboriginals in Australia this is even further enhanced and we hear of telepathy and visions Wilderness in the Amazon, the outback of Australia, India, Venice, The Great Wall, Belgrade, Amsterdam, New York, the succession of places she visits after she gains more and more success and a reputation in the art world is dazzling. All the while we see turbulent love affairs with younger men, most of the time ending rather tragically for Marina. Energy, aura’s, unexplainable phenomenons, visions, mindfulness, focus on experience, yoga retreats. So avant garde how what she did in the 80's and 90's in a diluted form is now common place in our society. We have meetings with Rem Koolhaas, Susan Sontag, the Dalai Lama, the artistic lead of Givenchy, other artists, Lady Gaga, TED talks (https://www.ted.com/talks/marina_abra...). The last part of the book misses for me the rapturous energy and drive, focussed on getting her at her first performances. It’s less about the physical extremes and more about narrating a well deserved international jetset life, and a vision of making performance scaleable and taken serious in the art world and broader society. Therefor overall I feel this was a 3,5 stars book for me and a definite recommended read for anyone interested in modern art! Quotes from the Dutch edition: Ik weet inmiddels dat geen enkele houding prettiger is dan een andere. Zelfs de prettigste houding wordt na een tijdje ondragelijk. Om iets te bereiken, moet je álles geven tot je niets meer overhebt. En dan gebeurt het vanzelf. Ik wil niet meer willen.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ladan

    I have burned enough calories to rate this, a review will be added soon ......................................................................... Not one of those awful characters out of a movie that gushes out the past while the violins play A pretty rough childhood, devastating upbringing, dysfunctional family, communism, savage mental and physical punishments, fear, deep feelings of shame, discrimination, bleeding soul, rejection, rerejections, frustrating and dysfunctional relationship, solitud I have burned enough calories to rate this, a review will be added soon ......................................................................... Not one of those awful characters out of a movie that gushes out the past while the violins play A pretty rough childhood, devastating upbringing, dysfunctional family, communism, savage mental and physical punishments, fear, deep feelings of shame, discrimination, bleeding soul, rejection, rerejections, frustrating and dysfunctional relationship, solitude, pain, abortin, betrayal, belittled sunk so low to ask the love of her life to have a ménage à trois with her and his lover, ungrateful brother, and ... well in real life if you meet someone putting these all behind, you may congratulate them for merely surviving! Instead, you see her simply dusting off her soul and body, getting down to the business and turning out to rock. Pure Nudity Marina is honest in telling her story, her soul and her mind are totally naked, she is speaking her mind out loud, it is as if she is doing a psychological surgery on herself, as wild as possible, unravelling her deepest scars. This provides one with the courage to feel the fear of whatever one is afraid of, experiencing it to the fullest and then DO sth about it. I did, I faced one of my phobias and I was inspired by her bravery. Before reading her memoir, I liked Marina and thought of her as a strong woman, but now I don't like her, I do respect this lady, I envy her, she is a self-made whatever she is. Hats off to James Kaplan Great job man, reading every single sentence of the book was exactly as if I had Marina with me and hear her telling me about her story. I laughed, cried, went crazy, and experienced her intimate company through your words. If one day I would be offered to write a memoir I want you to be my ghostwriter :) After writing this review a whole clump of my hair had turned grey Boy oh boy, it was hard to rate this book... I totally understand the fact that some people want to be religious, spiritual and blah blah blah ...yet I don't get the reason beyond their attempt to drop the jaws of women and men of science. I mean if you enjoy sth, then just enjoy it, you can even keep bragging about it, but what do u get out of trying to prove science wrong? Remember, science never fails and if you don't believe in it, you'd better unfriend me before I have the privilege to block you. On some pages, I found Marina hardly trying to attack common sense and strive for questioning science, that was unbearable so I practised my scanning skill on those pages. If I get a remarkable score on my reading section in IELTS exam, Marina I owe it to your memoir! Another thing which saved me from this hell of absurdity and stupidity was the parallel read I did, whenever I was about to put down this book I went for Stephan Hawking's last book to wash all the nonsense away. Matching soundtrack: Even dead things feel your love by Petter Carlsen

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melania 🍒

    4/5 I really, really loved this book. And, mind you, I knew almost nothing about Marina prior to reading this. I’m more of a basic b when talking about art( I just like to admire a good old fashioned painting and that’s pretty much it) but reading this book opened my eyes so much about how complex and mind bending performance art can be. She’s a truly amazing, out of this world performer and yet such a flawed human being. I loved her honesty and how raw she was in writing this book, maybe that’s 4/5 I really, really loved this book. And, mind you, I knew almost nothing about Marina prior to reading this. I’m more of a basic b when talking about art( I just like to admire a good old fashioned painting and that’s pretty much it) but reading this book opened my eyes so much about how complex and mind bending performance art can be. She’s a truly amazing, out of this world performer and yet such a flawed human being. I loved her honesty and how raw she was in writing this book, maybe that’s why I felt so close to her. I just couldn’t wait to get home and listen to her more (audiobook read by the author). I can’t tell how much of the enjoyment was just me and my personal taste and how others would rapport to her work and story and voice, but it’s totally worth a try.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Re-read--sped through it just like last time! Inspiring story :) FIRST REVIEW: Incredible! One of the great things about Marina's story is that it surely inspired a rigorous dedication to it telling in the ghost writer, who has meticulously constructed a narrative that it's impossible not to read in Marina's voice. It's insane the number of times she's been prepared to die for art, and I get the feeling she isn't done trying yet. The men in her life were mostly bullshit, and a handful of the women wer Re-read--sped through it just like last time! Inspiring story :) FIRST REVIEW: Incredible! One of the great things about Marina's story is that it surely inspired a rigorous dedication to it telling in the ghost writer, who has meticulously constructed a narrative that it's impossible not to read in Marina's voice. It's insane the number of times she's been prepared to die for art, and I get the feeling she isn't done trying yet. The men in her life were mostly bullshit, and a handful of the women weren't that much better either—but the ones who loved her along the path made sure her audience continued to build until today, when she effectively has a global stage. Thanks to a ridiculously risky real estate deal decades ago, she wouldn't have needed to work ever again—but try telling that to her. Essential reading to fans and non-fans alike, about the trials and tribulations of life, and how they never really stop, but about what is possible to achieve with practice and dedication—with detailed description of what that dedication consists of.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alwynne

    The 2010 show at MOMA in New York, “The Artist is Present” cemented Marina Abramovic’s brand –either a testament to the power of her work or to the extensive social media used to promote and circulate her performance. Abramovic was initially part of the avant-garde, focusing on an area of artistic practice rooted in resistance to the commodification of art. But Abramovic’s somehow managed to transform herself and her work into high-status, high-profile commodity in step with the hierarchical, su The 2010 show at MOMA in New York, “The Artist is Present” cemented Marina Abramovic’s brand –either a testament to the power of her work or to the extensive social media used to promote and circulate her performance. Abramovic was initially part of the avant-garde, focusing on an area of artistic practice rooted in resistance to the commodification of art. But Abramovic’s somehow managed to transform herself and her work into high-status, high-profile commodity in step with the hierarchical, success obsessed, contemporary art world. Abramovic’s ghost-written memoir chronicles her life from a childhood as the neglected, abused daughter of elite communist party members in post-war Yugoslavia to international art star. Yet her book’s curiously thin on details about art. Her representation of the ideas informing her work is often cursory, sometimes coming across as unexpectedly naïve. For someone like me who’s, at best, ambivalent about Abramovic there’s nothing here likely to alter my opinion. Instead, this is very much a close-up of Abramovic’s personal experiences and opinions. I couldn’t help comparing this unfavourably to memoirs I’ve enjoyed by women like Viv Albertine, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Patti Smith, unlike these there’s no clear and compelling image presented here of wider cultural contexts. There’re also far too many instances of the kind of flavourless prose that seems a common feature of the ghost-written autobiography. Although I'm grateful the apparently "racist" observations that caused a stir when excerpts were previewed have been dialled back. Yet I found it hard not to admire Abramovic’s tenacity and self-belief, as well as her ability to exploit the possibilities of her work in a male-dominated environment, and in doing so elevate the status of performance art as a genre. Personally, I’d have liked more on the artists and gallerists she encountered like Ricky Demarco or Fluxus members like the legendary Joseph Beuys. I’d also have appreciated a clearer sense of how the pieces she’s performed link to broader movements and influences: her early “Rhythm O,” for example, sounds like an extension of what Yoko Ono was doing in the 60s with “Cut Piece” but without the underlying conceptual sophistication. From her descriptions Abramovic’s process seems to be more instinctual than anything else, and although she references ideological concerns there’s no impression of anything that has the sustained political force I associate with figures like feminist Annie Sprinkle or Bob Flanagan, who also pushed his body to the limits in his practice but in doing so made persuasive statements about bodies and disability. Abramovic frequently cites her interest in the interaction between artist and audience but that seems to me a given in any performance-based art. She also talks at various points about her belief systems but these seem to be based on piecemeal plundering of other cultures – Tibetan Buddhist, Aboriginal Australian – mixed up with vague notions about cosmic consciousness, mindfulness, and ley lines blended into a ragbag, incoherent personal philosophy. An irritating mixture that’s far too reminiscent of the shallow spiritualism popular in segments of the 60s’ counterculture and more recently resurrected in spin-offs from Western New Age movements. The things I’d like to have seen explored, for example Abramovic’s transition from marginal artist to popular celebrity linked to people like Lady GaGa, Jay-Z, and even Kim Kardashian, aren’t really covered here. One day she’s travelling around immersed in the art sphere, the next she’s magically working with fashion designers and being covered in popular magazines, the performance-art equivalent of figures like Warhol and Damien Hirst. I find it hard to accept this transition was as organic as her memoir suggests. I also wondered about the role of trauma in her process, certainly trauma’s represented as a fundamental part of her formative years but it’s not something she articulates in any depth here. And perhaps lack of depth's the fundamental problem I had with this. Previously I'd only encountered Abramovic through her work, I didn't find it particularly convincing but it sometimes raised intriguing questions and associations, after reading this account of surprisingly-superficial concepts and muddled intentions that's no longer an option.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Her art is physical and demanding. It requires concentration, determination and endurance. Both her parents were brave and heroic partisans in WWII and she believes they passed on to her the steely commitment needed to “walk through walls”. Until you understand her childhood and youth you might question how Marina Abramavic, who pioneered performance art, came from Tito’s drab grey Yugoslavia. While physically and emotionally abused by her parents, she did not live in a tiny flat with 20 relative Her art is physical and demanding. It requires concentration, determination and endurance. Both her parents were brave and heroic partisans in WWII and she believes they passed on to her the steely commitment needed to “walk through walls”. Until you understand her childhood and youth you might question how Marina Abramavic, who pioneered performance art, came from Tito’s drab grey Yugoslavia. While physically and emotionally abused by her parents, she did not live in a tiny flat with 20 relatives and was not deprived of the outside world or art. Her parents' connections helped, but she achieved on her own and her own terms. Leaving Belgrade behind (in ways that today’s immigration rules would never permit) free of parents (more liberating for her than communism that didn’t really touch her) she carved out a new life. She loves, she dares, she performs, she travels, buys and sells homes, works with important galleries and agents, forms a foundation and prepares, like an athlete, for her performances. You learn what it is like to sit motionless for hours/days, how one feels when self mutilating, the logistics of laying on ice and how you have to trust someone with an arrow pointed to your heart. Since it is not much discussed, nudity does not seem to be an issue for her. The best descriptions (among many great descriptions) of the emotional and physical feelings while performing were those of The Great Wall walk and “The Artist is Present”. You follow Abramovic to meditation and cleansing retreats. You see her purification and awareness regimen for herself and others (including Lady Gaga). The relationships with Ulay and Paulo are important for how long and deep they were and how difficult the abrupt separations were. The book is filled with photos. There are some obligatory color photos of colleagues, but the highlights are the many B & W that help the reader envision the work. Abramovic is vibrant and passionate. She is art and art is her. The story is hers, but in writing a life this big, decisions had to be made. Credit must be given to James Kaplan who is most likely the one who set the tone, decided on the pace, emphasis and general overview. I highly recommend this book for those who appreciate performance art.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jelena Jonis

    It was Sex and the City that introduced me to Marina Abramović and just like Carrie Bradshaw, I too, was very sceptical about performance artists. Now I understand why. To read about a performance is not enough - you have to experience it. I think on some level this book IS an another performance and as a reader you become part of M. Abramović art. Her ability to tell a story is at the same time elegant AND sharp. It leaves you speechless. It leaves you confused. And after you're finished with It was Sex and the City that introduced me to Marina Abramović and just like Carrie Bradshaw, I too, was very sceptical about performance artists. Now I understand why. To read about a performance is not enough - you have to experience it. I think on some level this book IS an another performance and as a reader you become part of M. Abramović art. Her ability to tell a story is at the same time elegant AND sharp. It leaves you speechless. It leaves you confused. And after you're finished with this book (and this book is finished with you) it feels you've been guided through a very multicolour, emotionally difficult, challenging but full-of-life walk. It's not your walk, but somehow you become part of it. And that's what true art does - it connects everything.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kunal Sen

    It is extremely rare for me to say that I was better off not knowing something. This is one of those moments. I have been an admirer of Marina Abramovic’s work for many years. The depth and originality of her concepts amazes me, and the emotional intensity moves me very deeply. My exposure to her work was only through videos and descriptions. Finally I got to see her in 2015, at a TED meeting in Vancouver, and my admiration for her peaked as I saw her perform, which involved each of the two thou It is extremely rare for me to say that I was better off not knowing something. This is one of those moments. I have been an admirer of Marina Abramovic’s work for many years. The depth and originality of her concepts amazes me, and the emotional intensity moves me very deeply. My exposure to her work was only through videos and descriptions. Finally I got to see her in 2015, at a TED meeting in Vancouver, and my admiration for her peaked as I saw her perform, which involved each of the two thousand attendees at the conference. I should have kept it at that, and I wish I never picked up this book. While I enjoyed to know about her interesting life and experiences, I should have stayed away from knowing what were the things that often inspired her creations. Here is a person who believed that Australian aborigines telepathically spoke to her, and she wanted to use an Indian guru who claimed he could stay underwater for hours (and didn't want to take part in her performance in New York only because his power goes away when he tries to do it for non-religious reasons), and Brazilian shamans who believe every cell of your body hold all the memories of your life and heal emotional pains through appropriate massage, and all other shades of absurd spiritual hocus pocus. It is very hard for me to take someone seriously who explicitly believes that most things in the world has no rational explanation. What is really interesting is that her work remains emotionally valid and incredibly powerful in spite of what motivated her, which are so far away from what I learned to be true. It is not just a clash of two belief systems, but the conflict is between unsubstantiated beliefs, and demonstrable assertions that can be rationally justified and verified. This only proves that even though an artist might think of certain conscious reasons for her creation, what actually makes them effective, touching, and powerful is the depth and sensitivity of their subconscious mind. Now, when I see my next Abramovic, I have to try hard to forget what I have learned through this book. I still believe she is an amazing individual, but terribly confused by strange and absurd ideas about how the universe works.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanja

    If you are unfamiliar with Marina Abromovic then you probably didn't see the wonderful documentary The Artist is Present. It showcases a project of hers in which she sat in silence with hundreds and hundreds participants who came to be a part of the performance art with her. Thousands of people lined up in New York for the chance to sit across from her and experience an "energy exchange" with the artist. They were allowed to sit for as long as they would like during museum hours and she was prese If you are unfamiliar with Marina Abromovic then you probably didn't see the wonderful documentary The Artist is Present. It showcases a project of hers in which she sat in silence with hundreds and hundreds participants who came to be a part of the performance art with her. Thousands of people lined up in New York for the chance to sit across from her and experience an "energy exchange" with the artist. They were allowed to sit for as long as they would like during museum hours and she was present daily for months without eating, leaving, or even using the restroom. The Artist is Present brought attention to this woman who has been performing highly demanding and eccentric performance art for decades across the world. This memoir, Walk Through Walls, tells the story in her own words. She is truly a force and her story is remarkable. Walk Through Walls does what any good memoir should do. It allows you insight into a life that is very different from your own, into a perspective that you likely do not share, and into experiences that you will likely never have. I kept thinking how very unrelatable a lot of her stories are. Her life is so vastly different from mine I cannot even put myself in her shoes most of the time but there is still plenty of common ground on which to stand. She describes in detail many of her performances which can be seen as beautiful expressions of the capabilities of a motivated human body or seen as horrific exploitations of masochism depending on your own world view. Either way, you don't want to stop reading about them and luckily she includes many many photographs to bring it all together. When she's not displaying herself naked while drawing blood in one way or another she is living the life of a vagabond artist or eventually a successful one who's had some luck alongside her unfettered determination and vision. When she's not working she's dealing with the stressors that come with romantic love and being entangled with another soul. This is when she's most relatable. Anyone who has experienced passion and heartbreak will find commonalities here. Abromovic is a fascinating individual, truly. Regardless of your opinions on performance art this memoir shines light on her history and mindset that will help you get just a little closer to understanding why a person would subject themselves to such extreme violence and hardship in the name of art. It's incredibly important to expose yourself to stories that are not similar to your own. This is one of those stories and is an absolute must read. for more reviews and content please visit my blog amanjareads.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ona

    The life story of extraordinarily brave, strong, independent and authentic woman.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kotryna

    Marina Abramovic mentions the concept of three Marinas in her memoir: the warrior one, the spiritual one, and the bullshit one. Which pretty much sums up the book, full of black and white drama, love, spiritual explorations, travel, art, sex, and more drama. "Now, then, that is the tale. Some of it is true." – Mark Twain wrote in his own memoirs. I think this could also be said about Marina's attempt, as I am really not sure if all of her memories are memories at all or are they visions, fantasi Marina Abramovic mentions the concept of three Marinas in her memoir: the warrior one, the spiritual one, and the bullshit one. Which pretty much sums up the book, full of black and white drama, love, spiritual explorations, travel, art, sex, and more drama. "Now, then, that is the tale. Some of it is true." – Mark Twain wrote in his own memoirs. I think this could also be said about Marina's attempt, as I am really not sure if all of her memories are memories at all or are they visions, fantasies, metaphors, or something else. But it is a story of a woman - strong and broken at the same time - a story of someone who lived ten lives in one, who kept recreating herself as a work of art, who've been everywhere and met everyone.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Monika Guliakaite

    this is the most inspirational piece I have ever read. it is amazing what a human body could do and how the mind works. no doubt this will be my source of courage and inspiration

  14. 5 out of 5

    Olya Shvayko

    The most incredible autobiography I’ve ever read. It’s about real ART. Life. Love. Mission.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hana

    Who is Marina Abramovic? Like the Elephant's Child my besetting sin is curiosity. So when I logged on to Twitter to check the economic buzz on the latest employment numbers and saw #SpiritCooking trending I foolishly clicked on the link, asked the above question and discovered this.... From the New York Times review: Marina Abramovic’s first major performance art piece was based on an old Russian drinking game. In front of an audience in 1973, she took a series of sharp knives and stabbed each Who is Marina Abramovic? Like the Elephant's Child my besetting sin is curiosity. So when I logged on to Twitter to check the economic buzz on the latest employment numbers and saw #SpiritCooking trending I foolishly clicked on the link, asked the above question and discovered this.... From the New York Times review: Marina Abramovic’s first major performance art piece was based on an old Russian drinking game. In front of an audience in 1973, she took a series of sharp knives and stabbed each as quickly as she could into the spaces between her fingers. (In the game, there is only one knife and you take a drink for each nick.) Blood went everywhere. The art crowd loved it. Ms. Abramovic knew she’d found her medium.... This finger-stabbing phase was followed by one that might be described as, “I take off my clothes and cut myself, sometimes while lying on ice.” There was her I-run-into-things-while-naked period. There was a crawl-on-the-floor-with-snakes era. These days Marina palls with Lady Gaga and does "Spirit Cooking" for Clinton campaign insiders. Turns out the ubiquitous Clinton campaign chair and consigliere, John Podesta, was looking forward to joining Marina Abramovic for an intimate "Spirit Cooking" evening at her D.C. home. You remember John Podesta, don't you? He's the one whose email account had this [email protected] Sigh. Of course he was hacked and for days and days we've all been treated to a barrage of insider gossip that makes West Wing look tame. One does not have to buy into the satanic cult conspiracy theories that have the Twitterverse aflutter to realize that this (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] is not a good look for Team Hillary four days before the election. Weirdest. Election. Ever.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This is a memoir about a very unusual and interesting person. She is not someone I would ever want to "have a beer with." I imagine she would think I was terribly dull anyway. But she writes about her life vividly and with a lot of passion. At times, it felt like just a play by play of her successes or lovers so it was dull at times for anyone but the devout fan (which I am not), but it gave me a window into a new world, which is all you can ask for from a memoir. This is a memoir about a very unusual and interesting person. She is not someone I would ever want to "have a beer with." I imagine she would think I was terribly dull anyway. But she writes about her life vividly and with a lot of passion. At times, it felt like just a play by play of her successes or lovers so it was dull at times for anyone but the devout fan (which I am not), but it gave me a window into a new world, which is all you can ask for from a memoir.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Noggle

    Absolutely incredible. One of the most engrossing autobiographies I've read. “I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.” “I came to believe in the idea of parallel realities. I think that the reality we see now is a certain frequency, and that we're all on the same frequency, so we're visible to each other, but that it's possible to change frequencies. To enter a differen Absolutely incredible. One of the most engrossing autobiographies I've read. “I had experienced absolute freedom—I had felt that my body was without boundaries, limitless; that pain didn’t matter, that nothing mattered at all—and it intoxicated me.” “I came to believe in the idea of parallel realities. I think that the reality we see now is a certain frequency, and that we're all on the same frequency, so we're visible to each other, but that it's possible to change frequencies. To enter a different reality. And I think that there are hundreds of these realities.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Zealots have always fasted and flagellated. Religious communities teach that these acts are sacred, between you and your higher power. Carving stars in your body, laying in fire, staring at someone for 8 hours a day while not eating for 16 days, and doing all this in public as art, not political or religious acts? That's one removed from the real thing. Making your career off of publicly mutilating yourself or imitating saints is distasteful to say the least. The true mark of a saint is selfless Zealots have always fasted and flagellated. Religious communities teach that these acts are sacred, between you and your higher power. Carving stars in your body, laying in fire, staring at someone for 8 hours a day while not eating for 16 days, and doing all this in public as art, not political or religious acts? That's one removed from the real thing. Making your career off of publicly mutilating yourself or imitating saints is distasteful to say the least. The true mark of a saint is selflessness. Marina has much to offer and has obviously sought after wisdom. "The Artist is Present" in and of itself is a beautiful work. I'm sure it touched thousands of lives. But she's not a monk. Art is a craft and a trade. She has devoted her life to her career. A body of work which, for the most part, centers around herself. There's an old story in which a man wears the skin of sheep to receive a blessing that doesn't belong to him. If I ever see her perform that as a piece then maybe all those fancy retreats have finally taught her something.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alla

    I haven’t heard either about this book or about Marina or about modern performance art, but her eyes on the book’s cover caught me. This book is about transformation of a little Serbian girl that was listening to grandma’s stories in a small kitchen in Tito’s Yugoslavia into an independent charming and incredibly attractive woman, artist, citizen of the world and, as people call her with love and respect, grandma of performance. All these days when I was going through this book page by page I had I haven’t heard either about this book or about Marina or about modern performance art, but her eyes on the book’s cover caught me. This book is about transformation of a little Serbian girl that was listening to grandma’s stories in a small kitchen in Tito’s Yugoslavia into an independent charming and incredibly attractive woman, artist, citizen of the world and, as people call her with love and respect, grandma of performance. All these days when I was going through this book page by page I had a feeling that I was sitting with Marina under the stars somewhere in a desert close to a bonfire and I was listening, listening and listening to her stories so closely that sometimes I forgot to breath. Stories about her performances, broken heart, trips to Australian desert, 3-month walk on the Great Wall of China and many-many more. This book inspired me, cured me and gave me ideas how to live a happy life. I just started reading memoirs and biographies but I am already pretty sure that this book will be one of my favorite memoir books. Now I am watching everything that I can find about fabulous Marina Abramović.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ylenia

    ✨3.75 stars✨ #NonFictionNovember 2016: CONTROVERSIAL. (sorry for taking so long with reviews but work is just killing my free time). I've been fascinated by Marina since I saw "The Artist is Present". I watched this documentary two times while I was still in high school and became absolutely interested in her life and her art. Obviously, I was really excited when this memoir was announced. Walk Through Walls was really eye opening for me. This was truly the story of becoming Marina. I felt inspired ✨3.75 stars✨ #NonFictionNovember 2016: CONTROVERSIAL. (sorry for taking so long with reviews but work is just killing my free time). I've been fascinated by Marina since I saw "The Artist is Present". I watched this documentary two times while I was still in high school and became absolutely interested in her life and her art. Obviously, I was really excited when this memoir was announced. Walk Through Walls was really eye opening for me. This was truly the story of becoming Marina. I felt inspired and empowered while reading this memoir, and also really close to her as a person. Her attitude toward work and art was (and is, still)astonishing. I thought this book was really well done (there were plenty of pictures and photos), and well written too.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Muriel

    The last 50 pages feel a little rushed, but boy, I’m giving this 5000 stars instead of just 5.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Like many who will read the book, I had seen a few clips of Abramovic's The Artist is Present and was intrigued after reading a bit about her online afterward. So intrigued that when I discovered this memoir, I immediately added it to my list. I am not disappointed by the contents of this memoir. It is name-dropping, it is understanding art from the artist. It is understanding the thoughts and struggle to create it. Then there is the money and sometimes no money at all. There is great passion in Like many who will read the book, I had seen a few clips of Abramovic's The Artist is Present and was intrigued after reading a bit about her online afterward. So intrigued that when I discovered this memoir, I immediately added it to my list. I am not disappointed by the contents of this memoir. It is name-dropping, it is understanding art from the artist. It is understanding the thoughts and struggle to create it. Then there is the money and sometimes no money at all. There is great passion in love affairs and attachments to people. It is the badass nature of his woman who is still killing it in her sixties to make a statement. I love this voice. There were the astonishing facts about her upbringing that both explained some history of her native country and the way she was raised that help contextualize her needs and wants moving forward. As she explained her art and incorporated images from these pieces, I learned so much. I also could have read forever about the preparations and final "performance" of walking the Great Wall of China. I was pleasantly surprised that as she began to explain about her The House with the Ocean View performance I realized I had seen it before in the Sex and the City episode and for her to explain why she declined to be the performer. Couple the Great Wall walk with Ocean View and then her detailed descriptions of the most recent, The Artist is Present and I was captivated. There is a style to the memoir but also the insight. It's almost like hearing the secrets of magic from the magician but she still keeps so much of it hidden in a beautiful way. I would now, looking back, have loved to have gone to this performance. To then know that art is then created from that art is special-- the photos of those that sat with her or the changes made to the performance space. Can I have one of the three dresses? Again, enthralled with her, her life, her art perfectly captured in this story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    fascinating insights into the life and career of the performance artist she grew up in an affluent but fractious family in Tito's Yugoslavia, with a controlling mother and a fluctuating relationship with father, where art was an escape interesting to see her development through her work, in particular as the focus turned more towards the relationship and interaction with the audience, and ultimately in enabling their attention and awareness. all did seem to lead up to the Abramovic method, but did fascinating insights into the life and career of the performance artist she grew up in an affluent but fractious family in Tito's Yugoslavia, with a controlling mother and a fluctuating relationship with father, where art was an escape interesting to see her development through her work, in particular as the focus turned more towards the relationship and interaction with the audience, and ultimately in enabling their attention and awareness. all did seem to lead up to the Abramovic method, but did feel more could have been said on the specifics of where it had developed to, maybe this is in another book

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ararita (Okretačica stranica)

    Such an amazing person and her story about her life, her art and her in general. Must read, even if you do not know who is Marina Abramovic. (She's a legend, d'oh!) Such an amazing person and her story about her life, her art and her in general. Must read, even if you do not know who is Marina Abramovic. (She's a legend, d'oh!)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    Tbh I never admired Ambramović's work and never really understood why. But after reading the book I finally do: her ideas, as grand as they are, do not affect me in any significnat way. I do not feel any personal connection to her, as if we were living in different universes. To her, life is art. To me, life is love. The book itself reminds me of articles popularazing science. So much is lost when it is put into simple words. Her experiences are interesting to read about but I believe this book t Tbh I never admired Ambramović's work and never really understood why. But after reading the book I finally do: her ideas, as grand as they are, do not affect me in any significnat way. I do not feel any personal connection to her, as if we were living in different universes. To her, life is art. To me, life is love. The book itself reminds me of articles popularazing science. So much is lost when it is put into simple words. Her experiences are interesting to read about but I believe this book to be a huge disservice to her art - as Marina is clearly living and creating in a place that cannot be put into words, simple or not.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diaph

    You’ll enjoy this book if you enjoy self-mutilation. So much easier to get the world to notice you if you are naked and bleeding. The art world run amuck. After 3 1/2 hours of the audiobook, read by the author, I quit! The author justifies her “art” as the desire to be free. I can think of many more inspiring ways of expressing this desire without self-hate. But they would not be titillating enough for the sensation seekers. It is astonishing to see all of the rave reviews on here. White middle-c You’ll enjoy this book if you enjoy self-mutilation. So much easier to get the world to notice you if you are naked and bleeding. The art world run amuck. After 3 1/2 hours of the audiobook, read by the author, I quit! The author justifies her “art” as the desire to be free. I can think of many more inspiring ways of expressing this desire without self-hate. But they would not be titillating enough for the sensation seekers. It is astonishing to see all of the rave reviews on here. White middle-class readers so full of their own self-hate that they delight in partaking in the self-hate of others.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cristina Georgiana Opriceana

    This book was a journey into conceptual art, especially performance art, of which I knew nothing. It is the story of understanding personal and artistic freedom from Marina Abramovic growing up in communist Yugoslavia and moving to a western culture, but it is more than that, the life of a person who seeks to improve and create herself. I received it as a gift and I learned a lot, the most important thing being that it has cleared some misconceptions I had on modern art. That's why I also recomm This book was a journey into conceptual art, especially performance art, of which I knew nothing. It is the story of understanding personal and artistic freedom from Marina Abramovic growing up in communist Yugoslavia and moving to a western culture, but it is more than that, the life of a person who seeks to improve and create herself. I received it as a gift and I learned a lot, the most important thing being that it has cleared some misconceptions I had on modern art. That's why I also recommend reading it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jelena S

    What a fascinating life this artist has led! I cannot remember the last time I was so immersed in someone's biography. Her ideas are rather unconventional and it was difficult for me to understand the fact that she was prepared to die for her art at any given moment. However, I find that the experience, inspiration and knowledge she want to hand down is priceless, it moved me in so many ways. What a fascinating life this artist has led! I cannot remember the last time I was so immersed in someone's biography. Her ideas are rather unconventional and it was difficult for me to understand the fact that she was prepared to die for her art at any given moment. However, I find that the experience, inspiration and knowledge she want to hand down is priceless, it moved me in so many ways.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    Amazing book, best thing I've read in ages. Amazing book, best thing I've read in ages.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Simon Robs

    Living art.

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