ART IST KUKU NU UT: MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ (opening). © Gabriela Liivamägi

Marina Abramović: Art Must Be Beautiful 0

Elīze Tīkmane

This autumn, Estonia is playing host to amazing art events not only in its capital city, but also in nearby Tartu, where from 15 September through 13 November, the contemporary art festival, ART IST KUKU NU UT, is being held. One of the festival's main events is the first exhibition in the Baltic States by the well-known performance artist, Marina Abramović – Art Must Be Beautiful. Selected works by Marina Abramović (at the Tartu Art Museum, through 13 November). 

A bit foolishly, I allowed myself to be guided by my first impulses and followed the festival points marked on the map (the festival is composed of several exhibitions); not really knowing what each point held in store, I ended up by the building that houses the Tartu Art Museum. Looking at it, I decided that there couldn't be a more fitting place to hold a festival titled ART IST KUKU NU UT [1] (which immediately translates in my head as “art is cuckoo, so what?”). The light-pink building, which features a neo-classical facade, has, over time, suffered a physical deformation – it has slowly and increasingly leaned over to one side and is now crooked, just like the leaning Tower of Pisa.

Entering the dark exhibition room, I was received by a half-naked woman with combs in each hand. Aggressively combing her long, dark hair over her face, she would occasionally mumble to herself: “Art must be beautiful. Artist must beautiful.” This woman, a video image, is none other than the New York-based, Serbian artist, Marina Abramović (1946). Taking into consideration that contemporary art is difficult for many people to comprehend, and therefore, most aren't familiar with its latest incarnations, the festival's organizers have come up with a fantastic idea – to start with the classics of contemporary art. And truly, the people of the Baltic States have been given an unprecedented opportunity – to see (albeit through the screen) the grandmother of performance art, which is how Marina Abramović has taken to calling herself.


[1]    The organizers of ART IST KUKU NU UT provide several definitions for the festival's title, but invite everyone to come up with their own.