Marina Abramović owes 4,765 hugs to the supporters of her successfully funded $600,000 Kickstarter. Last month, the artist launched the online campaign to fund her own Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) in upstate New York, a performance center conceptualized as a laboratory that will be dedicated to the practice of long-durational performance art and the “Marina Abramović Method.” Project donations ranged from $1 to $10,000 and all donors are invited to receive a personal hug from the artist in a future performance event called “The Embrace.” With help from social media, celebrity interest, and a few encouragements from Abramović herself, the center surpassed its goal by more than $60,000 before the end of its month-long funding period this past Sunday.
Designed by OMA’s Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu, the center’s focus is the large hall where Abramović and other performance artists will show six-hour art pieces to an audience donning lab coats. Contracted to stay for the duration, visitors will be trained in the Marina Abramović Method, being led through a variety of sensory exercises in rooms surrounding the great theater space.
A few weeks ago, a viral video of pop singer Lady Gaga practicing the Method in the nude raised interest in the MAI campaign. Last month, rapper Jay-Z’s recent six-hour performance of “Picasso Baby” at Pace Gallery in New York City paid homage to Abramović’s 2010 The Artist is Present performance at the Museum of Modern Art. Even the artist herself posted a playful clip, explaining how many long durational performance artists it takes to screw in a lightbulb.
With celebrity support and interest generated through Abramović’s #whyMAI blog and Reddit Q&A sessions, this unique vision is now on course to be realized. Overall, the Kickstarter campaign raised $661,452 and MAI became the largest cultural institution to be funded in this way. Soon, OMA will begin to transform a 29,000-square-foot former theater in Hudson, New York, into an institute devoted solely to long durational performance art, definitely the first of its kind.