Lisa Kirk Reimagines Marina Abramovic as the Grim Reaper

Artist Lisa Kirk has previously created a perfume that embodies the idea of Revolution. (It smells of “tear gas, blood, urine, smoke, burned rubber, body odor, and more…”) She’s staged an interactive public protest as part of the Performa Biennial, and this month, she opens an exhibition at Invisible Exports on the Lower East Side that promises to be just as wild. It will include a variety of works, including rusted rainbow, the oxidized-metal-paint-on-paper piece pictured above. But my attention was really piqued by an aside in the press release: “…there will be a special 24-hour durational performance featuring Marina Abramović as the Grim Reaper.” Now what, exactly, would that entail?

“So far, the performance involves a phantom Marina embodying the Grim Reaper,” explains Kirk, who is still working out the kinks. “She will be brooding, pacing, and drinking my collaborative chakra healing elixirs with Rawpothecary for 24 hours during the final weekend of the show, January 25 – 26. There will be some interaction with the audience and a possible standoff with a body double.” (Rawpothecary is a New York-based juice company that the artist is working with to conjure “custom elixir prescriptions…[that] aim to help improve your emotional, spiritual, and physical health.”)

It’s a bit unclear if Kirk plans to conscript the actual Abramovic for her performance—perhaps Marina will have some free time after her autobiographical opera concludes its December 12—21 run at the Park Avenue Armory?

Regardless, it’s the idea of Marina Abramovic that has inspired the artist.  “The piece is born as a reaction to the accelerating intensity of consumerism, urban decadence, and the hyper-inflated superego in today’s practically post-apocalyptic world,” Kirk says. “Marina, for me, represents the transformation of pop culture’s newly revived interest in, and the devouring of, conceptual and performance art as celebrity. She is a perfect icon for this new narrative. When I read about her performance with Lady Gaga, both ‘engrossed’ in separating rice from lentils as a meditative practice, I couldn’t help but be appalled by their naïveté, self-indulgence, and insensitivity regarding the art historical precedents that Marina, herself, was a part of. Perhaps it’s a bit of cynicism, but there are child laborers who live and work in horrible conditions, doing that very thing, all over the world. Their general lack of awareness and blind privilege inspired me. Truth be told, I love Marina’s work and as a post-feminist she’s integral to that art historical trajectory. I admire the courage she displayed in her practice, but her unabashed admiration for celebrity just confounds me.”

Part of Kirk’s conflicted opinion has to do with the money issues artists face. “Young artists today have to begin with enormous capital: to go to school, incur debt, and then work and build their practice. Survival alone is nearly impossible. The celebrity-cum-artist distorts the reality of the life of an artist. Marina, and people like her, are both powerful and irresponsible, so I felt compelled to re-imagine her as the ‘death of art.’”

Kirk’s exhibition—which includes sculptures, works on paper, copper-plated Cheetos, and other works without any direct link to Marina Abramovic—is on view at Invisible Exports from December 13—January 26. The 24-hour “durational performance” featuring Marina-as-Grim-Reaper will take place January 25—26. And the real Marina Abramovic is currently starring in The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic at the Park Avenue Armory, December 12—21.

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