Whilst in London over the weekend, for a sing and a dance in Hyde Park with The Pogues and The Libertines, I spent a couple of hours on Sunday in the blissfully white and quiet Serpentine Gallery. I arrived early and luckily didn’t have to queue, although when I left people were lining the paths of the park.
512 Hours is a new durational piece by Abramovic, where she spends 8 hours a day in the white gallery, 6 days a week from 11th June to 25th August, connecting with the space and with the participants.
The experience was similar to the opening hour of Abramovic’s piece at The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester as part of Manchester International Festival in 2009, where Abramovic guided her participants through ‘The Drill’ which were a series of actions including drinking water and maintaining eye contact with other participants in order to “help the audience to view and understand long durational art” <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/5756869/Manchester-International-Festival-VIP-opening-with-Marina-Abramovic.html>
The activities which I engaged in during my time at 512 Hours included counting grains of rice, walking slowly across the gallery space as well as being in the space amongst the participants with my eyes closed and sound reducing earphones on. Abramovic moved around the gallery rooms, guiding people by their hand into the activities. The actions in the space were more varied and interactive than The Artist is Present at MoMA in 2010 although similar in terms of the exploration into stillness and connection with the space and each other. I found the activities very relaxing and removed from the busy city. Watches and phones were not allowed in the space and which again was a pleasant removal from the outside world. “The idea of emptiness – of mimalism, reduction and simplicity – plays an intrinsic role in Abramovic’s own work, and has increasingly led to ‘more and more of less and less’…this journey towards immateriality.” <http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/marina-abramovic-512-hours>