The promotion of the book “Marina Abramović: Early Works, Belgrade Period” was held on Sunday, 16 October 2016 at Budapest Art market. The book was published in 2013 by Gallery Bel Art. Participants of the promotion were : Szombathy Bálint – multimedia artist (Budapest), Vesna Latinović – editor and director of the Gallery Bel Art (Novi Sad), Olivera Janković – author of the book and art historian (Beograd), and Vito Vojnits Purcsár – art theorist (Budapest).
Olivera Janković’s book on Marina Abramović: Early Works, the Belgrade Period, is an introduction to the early beginnings of this great international artist. Marina Abramović (b. Belgrade, 1946), produced her early works in Belgrade over a period that lasted from her enrolment at the Academy in 1965 until her thirtieth year and the move to Amsterdam (1975). After her studies, she engaged in drawing and writing texts for various artistic purposes while attending further training in Zagreb at Krsto Hegedušić’s Master Workshop. She also taught briefly at the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad. Her first performances took place in Belgrade in 1972. The works that emerged in the brief period between 1972 and 1975, whether performed in Belgrade, at art festivals abroad or in other foreign surroundings, in fact represent her “Belgrade period“. At the time she was associated with the Gallery of the Student Cultural Centre (SKC) which was rapidly becoming a cult site of the avant-garde. Together with a group of Belgrade artists (Raša Todosijević, Neša Paripović, Zoran Popović, Slobodan Era Milivojević and Gergelj Urkom) the young Marina Abramović helped build the spirit and atmosphere of the “new artistic practice“ and conceptual art.
With hindsight, local art history today notes this phenomenon as one of exceptional importance in the development of Serbian modern art. It was these young artists grouped around the Gallery of the SKC, with Marina Abramović as front runner, who introduced so much that was novel at the time: the new media, the concept of “idea as form“, the artwork as performance, changed attitudes towards the institutions.
Today, as she takes her place among the world’s leading artists, the discourse analysis of Marina Abramović’s early Belgrade period represents a meaningful contribution to the theory and history of Serbian art. With a fine sense of interpretative responsibility, Olivera Janković translates for us the works of this great artist. In a serious, contextualised and thorough examination of all aspects of Abramović’s work, she succeeds in analysing and critically interpreting it, proceeding discreetly but persuasively to its evaluation, summing up for us the value of the contribution made by the new art, in which Marina Abramović is an acknowledged leader. (From the introductory text of the monograph: Vesna Latinović)
Olivera Janković’s writing on the artist’s early Belgrade years contributes to a greater understanding and perception of Marina Abramović’s oeuvre, particularly as in these contentious times it is the first monograph of its kind ever to be published in Serbia.