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Video Still from "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film", Jay Z and Mark Romanek, 2013

For many of us who have not yet been adopted by the New York City art world we wondered who was the intense-looking lady in black pressed up against Jay Z’s forehead in the performance art film for "Picasso Baby"? She showed up again in Lady Gaga’s NSFW alternative medicine/rehab video promo for Gaga’s new album sitting opposite the Fame Monster herself. To say Abramović is having a moment is redundant. Abromovic’s entire career is a carefully constructed series of moments designed, as Lady Gaga explained, to enhance her “physical and mental experience in the present moment.”

Video Still from "The Abramovic Method Practiced by Lady Gaga", Lady Gaga and Marina Abramović, 2013

Born in Serbia, Abromovic’s seminal early works took place between 1973 and 1974 while she was teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Serbia’s second largest city Novi Sad and included Rhythm 10, a version of the Russian knife game made famous in Aliens. While recording audio of the performance, she cut herself 20 times, after which she replayed the recording while trying to repeat the exact movements in an effort to merge past and present.

In ’74, Abramović performed Rhythm 5 where she passed out from lack of oxygen in the middle of a five-pointed burning Communist star painted on the floor. Audience members thought it was part of the performance before a doctor and some others realized what was happening and dragged her out. Also in ’74 the artist staged Rhythm 0 where she allowed audience members to use any of 72 objects including a feather, a scalpel, a whip and a gun with a single bullet on her however they pleased. Over the course of the performance the audience became increasingly aggressive toward her, cutting off her clothes and eventually pointing the gun at her head before an audience member stepped in to stop it. After the 6 hour duration of the work, Abramović ended the performance and approached members of the audience. Everyone fled.

Video Still from "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film", Jay Z and Mark Romanek, 2013

Abramović is a celebrity’s celebrity. "Picasso Baby" is actually a homage to Abramović’s most renowned work, a 736-hour-long piece titled The Artist Is Present where she sat in the MOMA’s atrium opposite anyone who wished to engage in silent gazing. The experience was apparently powerful enough to result in people openly weeping at the event.

After years of experimenting with go-go, glam, identity swapping and the infamous meat dress, where else could Gaga turn for inspiration? Gaga attended The Artist Is Present and the two are collaborating on a project for an artRave on Nov. 10 featuring work by the HAUS OF GAGA and its technology branch TechHAUS. Abramović even hangs out with James Franco and one can’t help but wonder if she didn’t have a hand in inspiring his recent NSFW soft porn bacchanalia.

Abramović’s pivot into the mainstream comes hot on the heels of the launch of her organization’s Kickstarter campaign to finance the design phase of an institute for humanity “dedicated to the presentation and preservation of long durational work, including that of performance art, dance, theater, film, music, opera, and other forms that may develop in the future.” Even on video, Abramović’s radiates a mammoth presence. Architectural renderings of the completed space by Rem Koolhaas along with a pledge to hug every single one of the $1 backers of the project suggest that there will be plenty of fans on hand to pull her out of the next fire.

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