Marina Abramovic – The Serpentine Gallery, London

Having recently finished ‘When Marina Abramovic Dies’ a biography about Marina Abramovic, I was so excited to see she would be having an exhibition in London entitled 512 Hours. This was an exhibition I desperately wanted to visit.

I have admired previous works by Marina Abramovic for some time and had become really interested in her work and the depth of commitment and personal challenges she puts herself through for her work.

This exhibition is held within The Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde park. Abramovic herself is present for the duration of the whole exhibition from 13th June – 25th August. The exhibition consists of 3 large and empty gallery spaces with just a few props, Marina herself with a few other guides. The audience become the performing body with the help of Marina Abramovic and her guides. Leaving all personal possessions in a locker before entering the space each new audience member is lead by the hand around the space before being asked to remain with instructions. I was taken through into a second room and stood in front of a large curtained window. The guide held my hand for a while and then whispered that I should remain there for as long as I could. I spent an hour in that position with my eyes closed listening to the sounds of gentle movement within the space. Silent comings and goings from people as they move around the space and the sun on the curtains. It was incredibly hard to remain standing with my eyes closed. My body felt that it should be relaxing but my brain then had to keep concentrating on remaining upright. I started to sway a fair bit and my toes became uncomfortable eventually getting pins and needles. With my arms remaining by my sides these two started to feel the effects of prolonged stillness.

It really surprised me how hard this was to do, I had arrived with the idea htat this would be a relxing experience, one where I would leave with a sense of being revived. In stead I personally left feeling very drained and quite strange. A little like I had been overloaded.

I am not sure how Marina Abramovic hopes we will leave feeling or even what the expected experience is supposed to be, but it was an extraordinary experience that I am very pleased to have been part of. However I am not convinced that I felt this was one of her greatest pieces of work, personally I feel that a visual experience can be more emotionally engaging.