Marina Abramović is known as the “Mother of Performance Art”, and her artworks contain her unique and bold creative thinking that provokes people to think deeply. On October 13, 2021, her latest work “Crying Crystal Wall” was officially unveiled at the commemoration of the “Babyen Yar Massacre” held in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and her work once again sparked discussions around the world. This article starts from the interactive work “Weeping Crystal Wall”, analyzes the work in detail, and explores the current situation of Abramović’s large-scale interactive installation art by studying various symbolic metaphors about “Wall”. meaning and connotation.
The legendary Serbian artist Marina Abramović is one of the greatest female performance artists since the 20th century, known as the “Mother of Performance Art”. Because Abramović grew up in a militarily managed family, environmental factors played a role in her artistic creation. Her performance art practice began in the 1970s, and throughout her performance art career to date, her work has been shocking, transcendent, and thought provoking, dissolving the boundaries between visual art and performance art. She is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and unforgettable legends in the world of contemporary performance art.
One of the biggest features of Abramović’s public art works is that they are interactive. For example, each work in the “Rhythm” series is emotional, and the large-scale installation “Crying Crystal Wall” created in 2021 is also a highlight. one of the works. The usual performance art works are to interact with people through objects, and to perceive the emotions that the artist wants to convey in the interactive behavior of viewing experience, and this work is a mental interaction between people and themselves through the medium of “wall”, ” I” became the protagonist. There are many kinds of walls in the world, all of which have different functions and meanings. The discussion of Abramović’s performance art work “Crying Crystal Wall” brings us far-reaching thinking from the level of art and thought.
1 Abramovich’s “Wall”
The Weeping Crystal Wall is a large-scale interactive installation created by Abramović to commemorate the Jews who died in the Holocaust during World War II. In Abramović’s view, this wall is a symbolic extension of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, also known as the “Wall of Darkness” by the world. This wall is nearly 40m high, 3m high, large and thick. The wall is black and uneven. Anthracite coal from Ukraine mines was used as one of the main constituent materials during construction. The relatively flat wall is disorderly and orderly in the middle. The ground is interspersed with 93 uncut quartz crystals. Natural quartz crystal has the characteristics of transmitting information and storing data. It has experienced the tempering between heaven and earth in history. The interaction and resonance between nature also affect the energy content.
The audience approached the wall, the pedestrians stopped to touch the crystal passing through the wall, and stood in front of the wall to empty their souls and release themselves. With the passage of time, close your eyes and meditate, or whisper, or cry, among the crystals that record the energy of heaven and earth, all of them calm down and think about what is in their hearts, scrutinize or ponder the emotions expressed in them. In Abramović’s view, this work is also a “healing wall”, which is not only to remember the trauma in history, but also to give human beings the power to wake up and forgive in the present.
Abramović hopes that not only the human body will participate in the interaction, but also that every participant can reflect on their personal emotions and thoughts through the interaction. “No matter what we’re doing, there’s always violence, there’s always war somewhere, there’s always something we shouldn’t be doing as human beings, and I like to say stop by the way I create works of art,” This is Abramović’s way of responding to the times as an artist, when the absurd rules the world, and humanity will resist with remembrance.
2 Dialogue with the Soul in Participation
Abramović ’s creative approach has undergone a major change in the past few years, and it is more and more inclined to interact with the human soul. The work “Crying Crystal Wall” is different from her earlier works. Some of the works created in 2018 focus more on the dialogue between the participants themselves and their souls. Standing in front of such a wall with special meaning, people can perceive the things around them through the dialogue between the soul and the space. The pain brought to people by war is incomparable to anything except life and death. The artwork “Crying Crystal Wall” also uses this to allow people to have a deep dialogue with the soul through its special medium.
This piece is unique and different from Abramović’s past performance art “Rhythm 0”. “Rhythm 0” is her first performance art work that allows the audience to interact face-to-face with the artist, allowing people to display through the interaction of objects and people. In order to enhance the experience of participants, the exhibition site provides 76 kinds of tools, including daily necessities, such as coats, shoes, etc., as well as life-threatening blades and guns. She “tethered” herself in a confined space, handing over the handling of her body to the participants, allowing them to choose any tool at their mercy. The performance is going on more and more intensely. This performance art brings harm to the body and destruction to the soul, and ends in people’s criticism, abuse, and all kinds of violence. “Rhythm 0” brings pain, madness, and persecution from human nature . In contrast, the art work “Crying Crystal Wall” does not have too many media, no closed space, no violent behavior of the participants, but the viewer perceives the world through the soul’s contemplation and dialogue, and reflects on himself. Feel the expression of the soul that history brings to people.
3 “Wall” as a medium and a metaphor The relationship between the
wall and art has never changed, but in the context of contemporary art, the “wall” is no longer limited to specific forms, but through the artist’s whimsy and events. Comprehension and other free creations endow them with connotations and present different contents. When we turn our attention to art galleries, galleries and some art fairs, we will find that some contemporary art is always inseparable from the ancient hidden attribute of “wall”. These works of art are attached to the wall, and the artist is becoming more and more free from traditional media or any method, and the ancient element of the wall is given new “life” again and again. In contemporary art, the meaning of “wall” has become more and more broad, it can hold too many emotions, and it is presented in various forms in the hands of artists.
In fact, there are also many famous “walls” with special significance and widespread influence in the global perspective, which are functional and socially practical, or created for certain political purposes or social needs. Such as the “Berlin Wall” during the World War, and the “Separation Wall” built under the epidemic. “Wall”, as a symbol in cultural and visual sense, has a strong metaphor in Abramović’s large-scale installation artwork “Weeping Crystal Wall”, we can learn from time, place, participants and context Looking at Abramović’s “Wall”, we can see that the work has more practical significance in the current context.
3.1 “Wall” has a political metaphor
The world undergone many historical changes, and brutal wars have brought peace to the present. “Wall” is often an existence that contains political metaphors. For example, the “Berlin Wall” built in Berlin, Germany after World War II divided Berlin into two, with the development of socialism on one side and the rule of capitalism on the other. In Jerusalem, Israel, there is an old city wall that has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. This is a place that Jews dream of. The once endless war has almost subsided, but it is still recorded by the potholes in the city wall. It is full of cruelty here, listening to the joys and sorrows. On the land of China, there is a “wall” made of flesh and blood, the Great Wall, which has had a profound impact on the history of resisting foreign aggression, defending the country, and the survival of the nation. War is always violent, and “The Crying Crystal Wall” reminds people of what happened in those turbulent times by continuing the wall of history, connecting the beautiful present with the blood-washed past. Most of the famous walls in history have an inseparable connection with war, which is also the historical value of most “walls”.
3.2 “Wall” as a social metaphor
Keeping up with the hotspots of the times, the epidemic that has plagued the present for a long time has given people’s understanding of “wall” different meanings. Under the management of epidemic prevention and control, urban streets have gradually changed from the scene of “love life” everywhere to the wake-up call of “protecting life”. In some cities, buildings and living atmospheres are surrounded and blocked by blue iron “walls” that stretch for hundreds of meters. This phenomenon has aroused people’s thinking. On the one hand, this “wall” is the wall of life, which protects everyone’s lives in the process of isolating human-to-human contact and prevents the virus from expanding its spread; on the other hand, this “wall” keeps people between people Face-to-face communication is temporarily reduced, and relatives and friends become short-lived “netizens”, giving it some new social metaphors for the “wall”. The enclosure and barrier of the “wall” separates the “inside” and the “outside”, forming a common watch for human health.
3.3 “Wall” as a cultural carrier On
an empty wall, people have always painted some meaningful patterns on it since ancient times, so a large number of exquisite murals have been left. Among the ancient Chinese murals, tomb murals, grotto murals, and temple murals are several art forms with a long history. In addition, there are many primitive frescoes left in the natural caves in the early West. For example, the frescoes of the Lascaux caves in France are full of animals such as bison and horses. The original “wall” stimulates the most essential creative desire of human beings, and in this way inadvertently opens the door of art history. The paintings on the walls thus make the “wall” a work of art itself, and inadvertently record history. The “wall” in Abramović’s creation also serves as a carrier of culture, becoming a medium for people to reflect on war, pray for peace, and explore the relationship between self and nature.
3.4 The Wall of Commemoration and Warning
Abramović’s “Crystal Wall” commemorates one of the most brutal massacres of World War II, the Babin Yar massacre, in which, of course, the bones were returned , burying, burning, and destroying surround these Jews. The main constituent elements of the work are also closely linked to history, and this is one of the largest installations constructed by the artist in Europe in the past decade. Abramović believes the piece is a symbolic extension of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, considered a holy site by Judaism. War will inevitably affect the people and the country, and the connotation conveyed by Abramović’s Wall of Art has far-reaching warning and commemorative significance.
In the face of female artists and their works, the artistic behavior of female artists will be regarded as the expression of their own depression and distress, and even in some aspects, their artistic creation is regarded as invalid expression or “hysterical”. cathartic,” but Abramović uses her art to show us that’s not the case. Her many artistic performances make people fully feel the pain, cruelty, and deeply touch people’s hearts. The work “Crying Crystal Wall” does not carry any verbal communication, but continues history and human beings, as if listening to the demands of the participants’ inner souls, feeling the cruelty of war, making people sink to reflect on problems and awaken participation The restraints of the subconscious mind. Compared with some easel paintings, the immersive interaction between souls brings deeper sensory stimulation to the viewer, which can more vividly express the emotions the author wants to convey and maximize resonance. This installation art work is not only a simple visual experience, but also allows the viewer to be in this space and enter the inner world, from the external curiosity of the work to the internal confusion, and then to the transformation process of profound reflection, rethinking The significance and value of Abramović’s performance art . It shortens the distance between the viewer and the work, enhances the interaction, and enables people to gain a further understanding and understanding of the ideas that the work wants to convey, and then promotes performance art to truly enter the life of the public, and produces works with enlightening significance.