Screenshot via WePresent
Throughout her career, Marina Abramović has experimented with art mediums most haven’t thought of. The performance artist continues to do so in the digital sphere, most recently teaming up with Microsoft to create a physical installation where she’s always present—as a virtual avatar.
The 74-year-old has now opened five rooms with—surprise, surprise—online file transfer platform WeTransfer. While the beauty of her work is in its fleetingness, the new Traces exhibit crystallizes five treasures she holds close to her heart through “an immersive digital time capsule” not unlike the famous wall-to-wall Van Gogh Alive art show.
— Hannah Williams (@flamingnora) September 12, 2021
All things considered, the physical edition of Traces has ended its run after a short-lived, three-day popup at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London. What lives, at least for now, is the full digital experience made available for free by WeTransfer’s arts platform WePresent.
Each room honors an object vital to Abramović’s life and career in the last five decades, Artnet News reports.
Marina Abramovic’s collaboration with @WeTransfer culminates in this free immersive installation, Traces, @trumanbrewery – showcasing the five treasures that she wants to preserve for future generations. #AbramovicTraces.#marinaabramovic #wepresent #wetransfer #performanceart pic.twitter.com/c7Kce7hYRo
— The Blair Partnership (@TBP_agency) September 10, 2021
The first room commemorates the Rose of Jericho, a desert plant illustrating Abramović’s conviction in the power of life, and that “wherever you take it, it survives.” The artist encountered one during a road trip through California’s Death Valley with her former companion Frank Uwe Laysiepen in 1978. She thought it was dead at first, but an hour after immersing it in water, “Suddenly the plant was fully alive. ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘this is the ideal plant for me.’”
The second room gives thanks to Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. “[It’s] particularly important to me because of its cosmic view of the world,” said the Serbian artist. “It’s as though Van Gogh’s sensitivity allowed him to see the air’s atomic structure.”
Next, visitors are invited to interact with the 1991 installation, Crystal Cinema. It features an chunk of ancient quartz, a material believed to store “the entire memory of the planet.”
The fourth room embraces Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others essay, which has helped Abramović better acknowledge human pain, in that “we are all connected to each other’s pain.”
The last room celebrates a piece of rock from Mars. Here, Abramović recites the names of 10,000 stars.
With her own body as a core element in much of her work, Abramović often demonstrates the power of the immaterial; all that observers get to keep is a memory. Her move into the digital world expresses new ways of preserving these mental souvenirs. “I’m going to die one day—what do you do?” she shared in a statement obtained by Artnet News. “The digital is one solution, and mixed reality is another.”