The world’s most famous performance artist has spent almost 50 years facing down ridicule, death threats and conspiracy theories. Will the pandemic finally defeat her?

Every morning, Marina Abramović gets out of bed and puts on a pair of slippers. One reads “fuck” and the other “negativity”. “That is how to start the morning with a smile on your face,” she says. Then she will make breakfast to tango music. Sometimes, she will retreat to a hut in the woods by her house in upstate New York, for six days with no food, to contemplate a giant crystal she keeps there and “connect with the memory of the planet”.

This delicious glimpse into the life of the world’s most famous performance artist comes from a new documentary for BBC One’s Imagine series. “I think it’s important to demystify the idea of this glamorous life. It’s just down to earth,” she tells me, completely seriously, of the film – even though her house, built in the shape of a star, is filled with amazing furniture and art, and the grounds are vast enough to hold an aircraft hangar-sized shed containing her archive. It’s all fabulous – as is Abramović, who is funny, warm and yet somehow otherworldly (she goes in for shamanism, crystals, clairvoyants and star signs). I concede there are down-to-earth elements – when we speak via Zoom, for example, she is drinking a mug of Yorkshire Gold tea, discovered through a Welsh friend.


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