• Performance

RETROSPECTIVA MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ONION (1996)

De Marina Abramovic

  • English with Spanish subtitles
  • 20 minutes

Warning El video no tiene subtítulos.

An unclassifiable piece full of humanity, meaning and reflection on the artist herself, the piece, recognition and boredom.


The first shot of The Onion is a close-up of Marina Abramovic looking upwards and holding a large onion. Her nails are painted bright red, just like her lips. She slowly brings the onion closer to her mouth, taking a large bite from it and beginning to chew. Her voice-over keeps repeating the following as she devours the onion:

I’m tired of changing planes so often; waiting in waiting rooms, bus stations,
train stations, airports.

I’m tired of waiting for endless passport controls, of fast shopping in the shopping malls.

I’m tired of more and more career decisions, museum and gallery openings, endless
receptions, standing around with a glass of plain water, pretending that I’m
interested in conversations.


I’m so tired of my migraine attacks, lonely hotel rooms, dirty bed sheets, room
service, long distance telephone calls, bad TV movies.


I’m tired of always falling in love with the wrong man; tired of being ashamed of my
nose being too big, of my ass being too large.

I’m ashamed about the war in Yugoslavia.
I want to go away, somewhere so far that I’m unreachable by telephone or fax.
I want to get old, really old, so that nothing matters anymore.
I want to understand and clearly see what’s behind all of this.
I want not to want anymore.

As she is complaining and eating the raw onion, Abramovic becomes noticeably agitated. Her eyes are tearing up, saliva is dripping out of her mouth as her lipstick is rubbed off and bits of onion stick to her face. Her chewing slows down, although she continues to take ferocious bites from the onion while the voice-over continues.

In certain respects, The Onion has similarities with her early performances like Art Must be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful, in which Abramovic violently brushes her hair and face while reciting the title of the piece. Revolving around the mental and physical limits of pain, The Onion also revisits Marina’s dedication to the idea of the inseparability of body and mind by challenging the apparent limitations of physical stamina.

This video is also part of the 16-channel installation called ‘Video Portrait Gallery’ (Abramovic 1975-2002).

© Marina Abramović

Marina Abramovic

Artist

A pioneer of performance all over the world

Since she started her career in Belgrade, Serbia at the beginning of the seventies, Marina Abramovic has been a pioneer of the performing arts, creating some of the most important initial plays of the performance discipline. By exploring her physical and mental limits, she’s resisted pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation.

Abramovic won the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale. In 2010, she put on her first retrospective in the United States and simultaneously acted for more than 700 hours in The Artist is Present at the New York Museum of Modern Art. She founded the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI), an immaterial platform of long duration to create new collaboration opportunities for thinkers from any field.

Her most recent work has been Walk Through Walls: A Memoir, published by Crown Archetype on October 25, 2016. Her retrospective The Cleaner was inaugurated at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm in February 2017 and toured seven other European sites, ending at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, Serbia in 2019. In September 2020, the Bavarian State Opera put on the world premiere of 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, which will go on to tour other places. In 2021, she’ll put on the individual exhibition After Life at the Royal Academy, becoming the first female artist in the institution’s 250 year history to fill all the gallery’s space with her work.

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