Jul 27, 2016 11:05AM

Marina Abramović Says Having Kids Holds Back Female Artists

"I have no husband, no family, I'm totally free."

Marina Abramović has given an interview to German publication Tagesspiegel ahead of her 70th birthday, in which the performance art legend reflects on her brilliant career and the sacrifices she's made for it. It's a wide-ranging convo that sees Marina discuss the physical toll her art takes, her recent interest in pole dancing, and how she wants to "die at work, not while I'm sitting in front of the stupid TV".

The common thread running through the entire chat is how seriously she takes her art. It's her whole life, revolving around the ideas of discipline, self-control and concentration. And, being a performance artist, when she shows her art, it means showing herself. "I am the artwork," she said. "I can't send a painting, so I send myself… In the last year I didn't spend more that 20 days in New York. At airports I had to think 'where is my suitcase arriving from?'"

But, despite the intense nature of her work, it's something that she has dedicated herself willingly to for over 40 years: "I don't know if I could live differently. Also, I have no husband, no family, I'm totally free."

On the subject of having a career versus having a family, Marina does not subscribe to the theory that woman can have it all, saying that having a family takes something away from a woman's creative potential. "I had three abortions because I was certain that it would be a disaster for my work," she said. "One only has limited energy in the body, and I would have had to divide it."

"In my opinion that's the reason why women aren't as successful as men in the art world," she continued. "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."

It's a controversial position to take in a world where most of us have grown up being told we can be whatever we want to be (including being a mother and having a career, as typified by Beyoncé for example). But, at the same time, it's kind of refreshing to hear someone be so frank about the sacrifices they've made for their art. 

Photo: Nabil for Oyster #103

Nadia Bailey