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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 “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 “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. 4 out of 5

    Tomas Ramanauskas

    This book is… …an anatomy of birthing ideas …juggling ecstasy & agony …blurring the understanding of where life ends and art begins …a genesis of affection & discontent …bundling fantastic laughs …salted with sorrow …a wallpaper for a repressed life …shining a light on the dark corners of domestic tension …inspiration magnified …an alloy of success & failure …saying as it was/is …disecting passionate enamorations, the beauty & madness of it all …a radar of humans capabilities …deleting the This book is… …an anatomy of birthing ideas …juggling ecstasy & agony …blurring the understanding of where life ends and art begins …a genesis of affection & discontent …bundling fantastic laughs …salted with sorrow …a wallpaper for a repressed life …shining a light on the dark corners of domestic tension …inspiration magnified …an alloy of success & failure …saying as it was/is …disecting passionate enamorations, the beauty & madness of it all …a radar of humans capabilities …deleting the limits of how much of life can one live …about listening to oneself. This book is something else.

  2. 4 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 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I NEED IT

  4. 5 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, 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, I have just watched some videos by Marina and reading every single sentence of the book was exactly as if I had her 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 James :) 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 bla bla bla ...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

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    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 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

    Melania 🍒

    4/5 I’ll just say it: I loved this book so much (and I didn’t know almost anything 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 4/5 I’ll just say it: I loved this book so much (and I didn’t know almost anything 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 personal to me and I can’t tell how others would rapport to her work and story and voice, but it’s totally worth a try.

  7. 4 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.

  8. 5 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

  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 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

    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.

  11. 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, 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 4 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.

  14. 5 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

  15. 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marita

    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 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jelena In-Wonderland

    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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Muriel

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

  19. 4 out of 5

    Akvile Brazauskaite

    a very exciting journey through the very interesting life of the outstanding performer. it's such a pitty, that i didn't find her much earlier in order to be present in one of her performances. still hope to have an oportunity to do that.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauryna Nelkiné

    Inspirational and phenomenal. Exploring life, love and death. Through the pain, starvation, self-harm, discomfort and silence. Raw, strong, yet vulnerable. Disciplined. 110% dedicated to her craft. Spiritual. Free. Persistent. Lost. Woman. Broken hearted. Depressed. Real. Going through walls. Art is not about esthetics, it is about the change in ideology and human transformation. It should evoke all the emotions: disgust, pain, guilt, anger, curiosity, vulnerability, love and much more.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shubham Bansal

    I am obsessed not with the art of the artist, but the obsession this artist has for her art! I got to know about Marina Abramovic couple of months back (before buying the book) through an article someone shared on social media. I don't know why, but I wanted to know more about her and then came across this book. I am not sure, in fact, I am pretty much sure that I can't explain her art and put answers to question like, what is good or bad about her art? or even if I understand her art in its true I am obsessed not with the art of the artist, but the obsession this artist has for her art! I got to know about Marina Abramovic couple of months back (before buying the book) through an article someone shared on social media. I don't know why, but I wanted to know more about her and then came across this book. I am not sure, in fact, I am pretty much sure that I can't explain her art and put answers to question like, what is good or bad about her art? or even if I understand her art in its true essence. I have come to believe in recent times that there are something which your rational mind cannot accept but are easily processed by our irrational mind. Hence these things can't be explained, at least of now with the currently available medium of communication, but can only be experienced. In every line in the book, I tried to anticipate the level of experience Marina Abramovic might have during her performance and the experience the audiences went through. I can only anticipate and that's again the rational mind.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gabija

    Artists often exist in a shroud of mystery. Like parallel-humans, they're easy to imagine as these eccentric individuals who inhabit a completely foreign headspace. Walk Through Walls worked very hard to dispel these preconceptions, and even though it didn't exactly succeed, it's still a heart-warming and inspiring story. Marina Abramović presents herself as a surprisingly normal, to the extent of seeming 'too good to be true'. Abramović emphasises not just her work and the never-ending Artists often exist in a shroud of mystery. Like parallel-humans, they're easy to imagine as these eccentric individuals who inhabit a completely foreign headspace. Walk Through Walls worked very hard to dispel these preconceptions, and even though it didn't exactly succeed, it's still a heart-warming and inspiring story. Marina Abramović presents herself as a surprisingly normal, to the extent of seeming 'too good to be true'. Abramović emphasises not just her work and the never-ending projects she undertook, but also the little things in her life. She mentions her dog, knitting jumpers in the van she and her partner lived in, and the plastic bags her mother would refuse to throw away. One of her impressions from The Artist is Present is the fun of learning how to stop herself from sneezing, as it would disrupt the performance. Eating the filling out of a cake with Susan Sontag was another such minor episode that stuck out: for being simple, yet touching. These episodes, in stark contrast with her often-macabre performances, create a split in the reader's mind: Marina the Artist, and Marina the Human. The artist's childhood and twenties, while, in a way, the most conventional, were the most humanising. I found the idea of a controversial artist rushing home to be back by 10 pm, just because her mother insists on it, both odd and very realistic to the - at the time - Communist environment. Many stories and novels, still easy to come across in post-Soviet countries, touch upon such controlling family dynamics, so seeing a well-known figure remember it too was strangely delightful. The simple language and the humble presentation were also a refreshing touch. Abramović has pushed many boundaries in her career; it can't have been easy for her to withstand the pushback and the critique of her art, ideas and lifestyle. However, she only alludes to this: there is no grandstanding, self-importance or undue vanity; she does not present herself as a heroic figure who has moved mountains. For someone who, in a non-professional opinion, really did accomplish a lot and remains an exceptional individual in the art scene, the simplicity is a pleasant surprise and a step away from the stereotypical pretentious artist. All this may seem like an inspiring tale effortlessly told, but I cannot help remembering that every word has been carefully chosen with the help of a ghostwriter, with the aim of creating the desired impression. Was that impression relatability? Positivity? The opposite of intimidation, gruesomeness and other-worldliness? At the very least, after the 2016 US Presidential Election and the conspiracy theories that came with it, Marina Abramović had to entice the reader into trusting that she isn't a Satanist involved in illicit underground groups of high-profile criminals. Abramović undoubtedly achieved these goals, but to do so she must have left a lot out - or, at least, misremembered certain details. Autobiographies, by nature, are untrustworthy, as even the most honest storyteller has an image to maintain and dark moments to hide. Walk Through Walls , with its fascinating art pieces and the friendly, warm narrator lulls one away from a distrustful approach, but doubt in her words and memory creeps in anyway. In the end, though, I'm not sure that matters too much. The memoir is a great story, even if part - or most - of it were untrue. It tells of an eventful life and the adventures in the art world, as well as, indirectly, reflecting on the differences between the East and the West, and the cultural evolution of Europe in the 20th century. Were it a complete fiction, Walk Through Walls would still present a genuinely inspiring image of growing older: in her 60s, Marina Abramović is still making art, falling in love, travelling and maintaining a youthful, unjaded, energetic outlook. As a reader, I closed the book uplifted: not in a saccharine-and-rainbows kind of way, but with a greater sense of activity, purpose and creativity.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    From "The Artist is Present": "I was there for everyone who was there. A great trust had been given to me--a trust that I didn't dare abuse, in any way. Hearts were opened to me, and I opened my heart in return, time after time after time. I opened my heart to each one, then closed my eyes--and then there was always another. My physical pain was one thing. But the pain in my heart, the pain of pure love, was far greater." "Could art, should art, be isolated from life? I began to feel more and From "The Artist is Present": "I was there for everyone who was there. A great trust had been given to me--a trust that I didn't dare abuse, in any way. Hearts were opened to me, and I opened my heart in return, time after time after time. I opened my heart to each one, then closed my eyes--and then there was always another. My physical pain was one thing. But the pain in my heart, the pain of pure love, was far greater." "Could art, should art, be isolated from life? I began to feel more and more strongly that art must be life--it must belong to everybody." Marina Abramovic has fascinated me since I first read about her around 2010. I read about how she marked a traumatic breakup by each of them starting the walk along the Great Wall of China at opposite ends, and meeting in the middle to declare their long relationship finished. This memoir, written with the same openness that defines her art and meditations and career, allowed me to see what really happened behind the scenes. Instead of news articles that pick and choose what to tell, the full story was often very different from what pieces I knew. The context was hugely important. And her ability to describe her stark, cold childhood in Communist Yugoslavia was masterfully connected to her experiences and choices throughout her life. I admire her ability to reflect without drowning in history, and to live in the present while including the past and future equally. I was never bored for a minute with this book, and I am excited to see what she continues to do in the next chapter of her life. My only complaint is a strange one that happens in memoirs sometimes -- the beginning was all chronological, but once it got to the late 90's, the stories jumped around in time, for no apparent reason. She might describe a person's funeral, and then talk about an event that she was planning with that person years before. Otherwise, amazing book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shane Bordoli

    Up there with Viv Albertine's autobiography for sheer brutal and inspiring honesty. Charting her life of overcoming of heartbreak to take art beyond its normal boundaries, it works well as as a regular autobiography of an artist, but also occasionally points the way for us to transcend our workaday lives. Many will be aware of her through viral videos such as when she was surprised by her former lover and collaborator in a beautiful moment during her The Artists is Present piece at MoMA or the Up there with Viv Albertine's autobiography for sheer brutal and inspiring honesty. Charting her life of overcoming of heartbreak to take art beyond its normal boundaries, it works well as as a regular autobiography of an artist, but also occasionally points the way for us to transcend our workaday lives. Many will be aware of her through viral videos such as when she was surprised by her former lover and collaborator in a beautiful moment during her The Artists is Present piece at MoMA or the video of Lady Gaga's emersion in the Abramovic Method. Sounds a bit daft for me to be writing like this, but it's a page turner of female artistic emancipation that thrills and excites like few other stories. My only criticism is that it was written with James Kaplan and not solely her only work, but I suppose she's a performance artists and not a writer. Her voice still shines through in this important book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lina

    „The sheer quantity of love, the unconditional love of total strangers, was the most incredible feeling I've ever had. „I don't know if this is art“, I said to myself. „I don't know what this is, or what art is.“ I'd always thought of art as something that was expressed through certain tools: painting, sculpture, photography, writing, film, music, architecture. And yes, performance. But this performance went beyond performance. This was life. Could art, should art, be isolated from life? I began „The sheer quantity of love, the unconditional love of total strangers, was the most incredible feeling I've ever had. „I don't know if this is art“, I said to myself. „I don't know what this is, or what art is.“ I'd always thought of art as something that was expressed through certain tools: painting, sculpture, photography, writing, film, music, architecture. And yes, performance. But this performance went beyond performance. This was life. Could art, should art, be isolated from life? I began to feel more and more strongly that art must BE life - it must belong to everybody.“ // Marina Abramovic on „The artist is present“

  26. 5 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 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.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ben Loory

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

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emilė

    WOW <---- my reaction to literally every single page. So this book is an experience and I don't even know how to describe what I just went through while reading it. The book tells a story about Marina Abramović's life and work so far, but you don't need to have prior knowledge about her to be able to read and enjoy. Then again I can assure you that after you get into the book, you will become obsessed with her just as I now am. Most of the stories here were unbelievably incredible (and actually WOW <---- my reaction to literally every single page. So this book is an experience and I don't even know how to describe what I just went through while reading it. The book tells a story about Marina Abramović's life and work so far, but you don't need to have prior knowledge about her to be able to read and enjoy. Then again I can assure you that after you get into the book, you will become obsessed with her just as I now am🤷‍♀️. Most of the stories here were unbelievably incredible (and actually hard to believe but somehow I can't doubt her sincerity for a moment) and I found myself completely fascinated with her story and work and who she is as a person. The book also raised some phylosophical questions such as what is art and what are its boundaries, which I was very interested in exploring. This is surely one of the best books I've read this year so far and I can strongly recommend it to everyone.

  29. 5 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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tundra

    My interest in Marina Abramovic was sparked after reading ‘The Museum of Modern Love’ by Heather Rose. I had not previously experienced, or thought much about, performance art but became curious about why people would be prepared to perform in a way that may harm themselves or produce a transient piece of work. ‘Walk Through Walls’ has answered many of my questions. Marina is a highly sensitive person who has created a legacy through her hard work and dedication to her art. She says performance My interest in Marina Abramovic was sparked after reading ‘The Museum of Modern Love’ by Heather Rose. I had not previously experienced, or thought much about, performance art but became curious about why people would be prepared to perform in a way that may harm themselves or produce a transient piece of work. ‘Walk Through Walls’ has answered many of my questions. Marina is a highly sensitive person who has created a legacy through her hard work and dedication to her art. She says performance art is “An art made of trust, vulnerability, and connection.” This is exactly how she reveals herself to the reader and it is an inspirational message. She takes nothing for granted and shows us it is possible to still the body and the mind, and still be present and connected with her audience.

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