The Icon. Essays on the Art of Marina Abramović

Michał Krawczak
The Icon. Essays on the Art of Marina Abramović

The book is a collection of essays which analyze the phenomenon of Marina Abramović’s art from many perspectives, as well as her growing popularity and presence in the contemporary media sphere. The analysis covers not only performances, but also photographs, installations, videos and other traces of her presence in culture, such as magazine covers, fashion sessions and advertisements for products which use the artist’s image, as well as biographical elements scattered throughout various media forms.

The story of Abramović is told within the framework of individual essays, contextually, by analysing how performance art has changed under the influence of media culture, how it has interacted with technological media; and how culture itself has changed under the influence of strong processes of media democratization and the ‘virtualization of reality’.

The art of Marina Abramović, and intertwined autobiographical practices, are shown as forming a dynamic, fluid and open constellation. It can be said that the artist creates icons that are diverse in terms of space and time, and the composition of this book reflects this. In her work, the meaning of icons is dispersed through post-secular, multicultural, technological, visual and cognitive definitions. The signs-icons created by Abramović as part of her artistic activity are aimed at composing the structure of iconostasis, which is in a constant state of metamorphosis and transformation. It is made up of fragments: actions, images, memories, stories. The iconostasis thus constructed by Abramović becomes an interactive matrix, an interface, enabling non-linear narration, continually activated by the viewer’s perception. The analysis of her work also leads to conclusions concerning the whole genre of performance art. This form, observed from the perspective of the 21st century, appears to be a heterogeneous media art. This is not only focused on the direct presence and carnality of the performer, as her first manifestos announced, but also enters the world of digital media.

Michał Krawczak, Ikone Eseje o sztuce Mariny Abramović, ISBN 978-83-232-3585-9, ISSN 1895-376X, Adam Mickiewicz University Press, 2020.

graphic design: Raman Tratsiuk,

Photography on the cover: Youssef Nabil – Marina Abramović, New York 2006. Hand colored gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Artist and Nathalie Obadia Gallery, Paris/ Brussels.

Photographs in the book: Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives.

Adam Mickiewicz University Press website: Michal Krawczak, Ikona. Eseje o sztuce Mariny Abramović