Artist Marina Abramović: Children would have been 'a disaster for my work.'

The story was published in The Guardian.

The Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramović said she has had three abortions during her life because having children would have been “a disaster for her work”.

In an interview with the German newspaper Tagesspiegel translated by ArtNet, she said that children hold women back in the art world.

“I had three abortions because I was certain that it would be a disaster for my work. One only has limited energy in the body, and I would have had to divide it,” Abramović said in the interview.

“In my opinion that’s the reason why women aren’t as successful as men in the art world. There’s plenty of talented women. Why do men take over the important positions? It’s simple. Love, family, children – a woman doesn’t want to sacrifice all of that.”

The 69-year-old is famous for her more than 40 years of performance art. One of her earliest works in 1974 invited the audience to use an assortment of objects on her, from a feather boa to flowers to a loaded pistol. She told the Guardian that she was “ready to die” during the performance.

“The difference between theater and performance is that in the theater the blood is ketchup, and in performance, it’s real,” she told Tagesspiegel of her work.

In 2010, Abramović sat passively across from strangers and celebrities at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), staring into their eyes in a piece titled The Artist Is Present. It was turned into a documentary and also controversially adapted into a music video by the rapper Jay-Z.

Ahead of her 512 Hours performance at the Serpentine in London in 2014, Abramović told the Guardian that she was “old-fashioned” in real life compared with her artwork.

“Of course, I dream to have this perfect man, who does not want to change me. And I’m so not marriage material, it’s terrible. But my dream is to have those Sunday mornings, where you’re eating breakfast and reading newspapers with somebody,” she said.

But in her interview with Tagesspiegel, she said she was “totally free” by having no husband or family. Her artwork creates a demanding travel schedule and she said she didn’t think she could live differently.

“I am the artwork. I can’t send a painting, so I send myself … In the last year I didn’t spend more than 20 days in New York. At airports I had to think ‘where is my suitcase arriving from?’” she said.

In the interview, Abramović also looked ahead to her 70th birthday party at the Guggenheim – “We’ll see if I can dance down a pole from all the way up in the museum. I’m still practicing,” she said – though she’s already planned her own funeral.

"I knew telling my parents about my abortions wouldn't be easy."

"We both decided that we didn't want any children."