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

Consequently, I tend to see “Art Must Be Beautiful. Artist Must Be Beautiful” as both women's and the artist's constant confusion and inability to choose between naturalness and aestheticized beauty. With great power and determination, and in the name of a higher goal, the daily tasks/motions are completed. “Art must be beautiful! Artist must be beautiful,” Abramović mutters through clenched teeth. Couldn't it just as well be both life and women that must be beautiful? It makes one wonder if maybe it isn't the artist/woman herself who has placed these high expectations to be beautiful upon herself.

The work, “Onion” (1996), done twenty years later, creates an interesting shift – at the beginning of the video, we see a mature and elegant woman holding a large onion in her hands. With the words: “I'm tired of waiting...” being spoken in the background, Abramović eats the onion, her lipstick smears, her eyes are watering and the artist's face takes on a gradually worsening grimace of suffering. Aggressive assertions have been replaced by meekness, weariness, possibly even despair: “I want to understand and clearly see that, which is behind all of this. I want to not want anymore. I want to become old, very old, so that nothing has meaning anymore.” The exhibit forms a perfect pair of opposites – a young, naked woman in opposition to to a made-up, older woman. One full of energy and aggressively determined to tell, to do, to prove; the other – tired, despairing and powerless. The women are connected in that they are both portrayed by Marina Abramović. The relationship between these two works is made even more interesting by the recent and ongoing talk about Marina Abramović's plastic surgeries, which then leads to back to the artist's assertions about art and beauty in her work from 1975.

Another contrasting pair are the works, “Role Exchange” (1975) and “Hero” (2001). In the first piece, the artist and a prostitute exchange roles – the prostitute takes the place of the artist at an opening, while Abramović finds herself in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. A completely opposite role is played out in “Hero”, where Abramović, holding a white flag in her hands, sits atop a white horse while in the background, we hear a pathos-filled melody being hummed by the artist herself. Here, on the one hand, is a commentary on the sordid, the enslaved, the venal, the exploited. On the other hand, we have the embodiment of valor, courage and pride.