The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

I was fortunate (and fast enough) to get tickets for The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic which came to Amsterdam under the 2012 Holland Festival. I have written about the festival before, and I try to go to at least one performance each year. This year I missed two while I was in Malta (Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Johnny Greenwood, sadness). But, I did make it to Marina Abramovic.

I am not sure what I expected, I purposefully did not read too much about it. I knew it was a collaboration of interesting people; musical direction by Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, and Willem Dafoe directed by Robert Wilson, who does interesting theatre. So, on Saturday night, off we went to experience it.

foto by Ada Nieuwendijk for Holland Festival 2012

I thought a lot about what exactly I felt about the production. It looked beautiful (even from my not-so-close seat). It was a visual delight. Willem Dafoe was great, you forgot he was Willem Dafoe, he was in a different world, in a world created by Wilson and Abramovic, being an amazing, energetic and crazy narrator. Antony Hegarty sang beautifully, reminding me that I should listen to his music more often.

But in the end, when it was all done, I felt like there were three interesting pieces, which didn’t make a whole. Sure, Willem Dafoe’s narrator character holds it together, and it is lovely to listen to Antony’s music, but in the end, they were separate parts that I enjoyed, but if I look at the whole experience of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, I feel underwhelmed by it. It may not make sense, since I can’t explain what I had expected, but it didn’t give me what I expected.


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