Much to the delight of avant-garde art lovers, pioneering performance artist Marina Abramović is back. In her first work since the 2010 MoMA retrospective, Abramović has utilised the space of the PAC Contemporary Art Pavilion in Milan to produce performance art that is idealised as quiet and contemplative.

Entitled The Abramović Method, this piece involves a series of chairs, table-like beds and wooden poles around which people are directed to sit, lie or stand accordingly. There are noise-cancelling headphones, telescopes, minerals and white lab coats for participants, all of whom seem very Zen in this short film produced by Cool Hunting. Abramović says of her new work, ”The performance has no meaning without the public because, as Duchamp said, it is the public that completes the work of art. In the case of performance, I would say that public and performer are not only complementary but almost inseparable.”

Forming a relationship with the public is essential to art. Performance art is the primary area that enables audience participation beyond the act of looking, thus enabling a democratisation of the medium and the reduction of the cult of auteur. Getting the public involved is a potentially great way of taking the art in unexpected directions, allowing the space for subversions to occur. Of course, relinquishing control of your idea to others is no easy task. However, it becomes more and more necessary as new media and new ways of interacting come to prominence.

The issue then with Abramović’s new work is how dictatorially people are moved through the art space. There seem to be very strict guidelines as to how you can interact, including where you stand, where you sit and your behaviour during participation. How does this then define the kind of relationship the art and the artist has to the public? It becomes a one-way street; like a mother to a newborn, the provider to the passive consumer.

“The Abramović Method” is on show in Milan until 10 June 2012.

[via Cool Hunting]