Update: Marina Abramovic responded to the allegations reported in this article. That response is available here.
After failing to meet its $31 million funding goal, performance artist Marina Abramovic recently announced the cancellation of her Hudson, New York-based Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI). Designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas, the 33,000-square-foot space would have led visitors through guided tours of the experimental performances that Abramovic is famous for.
Originally estimated at $8 million, the project’s costs ballooned over the years to $31 million, according to the New York Post.
Speaking at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery in October, Abramovic conceded that the project had grown too expensive to proceed with.
“I, as a performance artist, could never raise $31 million unless some amazing guy from the Emirates [came forward] or some Russian who just wrote a cheque because he believed in me. But in real life, that doesn’t happen,” she said.
With the cancellation of the MAI, questions have arisen over the $2.2 million already raised for the project. After a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign raised $660,000, the artist pulled in another $1.5 million through private donations.
According to the Post, a spokesperson for Abramovic has stated that any money raised has been paid to OMA.
“The funds were raised not for the renovation itself but specifically for the schematics and the feasibility study,” the spokesperson said.
Although the Kickstarter description confirms the spokesperson’s statement, several backers questioned whether they had thrown their money away, while others complained that they had never received their rewards for donating.
“Fraud. I was supposed to receive a signed copy of the Abromovic Methods Exclusives DVD for $200 pledge back in 2013, and am still waiting for it. mised rewards,” said Andre Manukyan on the project’s comments page.
Abramovic had hoped that the arts space, unveiled in 2012, would capture the ephemeral, transitive nature of performance art while still allowing visitors to engage with the building around them. Floor plans released by OMA show several distinct programmatic elements, including a fitness center, library, a learning center, offices and classrooms all situated around a 650-seat central performance space.
Ambitious and wide-ranging in scope, the arts center would have mandated a minimum of six-hour “hard-core performance art” tours, where visitors would have surrendered their cellphones and worn white frocks while inside the building. OMA had also been set to design custom fixtures and furniture for the facility, including padded wheelchairs so that staff could ferry tired guests from one room to another.
Built in 1929, the vacant theater in Hudson is owned by Abramovic and would have retained the original brick facade and column-flanked entryway under OMA’s proposal.Unused and abandoned, the former community theater now sits unmaintained. Abramovic has told the Post that the building would be put up for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going towards paying off the unpaid school taxes the artist owes for the property.