Until she was 10 years old, performance artist Marina Abramović believed her parents when they told her that her birthday was November 29th, “Republic Day” in her native Yugoslavia. They moved the date from the actual November 30th to link her birth with the fortunes of her country, which both her parents fought to make free during World War II. Years later, she met her long-time life and artistic partner Ulay on her birthday, only to find that November 30th was his birthday, too. “Now, rather than a date to be ignored as a depressing annual reminder of lost time and inevitable oblivion,” James Westcott writes in When Marina Abramović Dies: A Biography, the first biography of the artist, “November 30 quickly became a cosmic guarantee of a shared destiny and a symbiotic union.” Just as her birthdate took on “cosmic” significance, Abramović’s flirtations with death and suffering take on greater meaning through her performance art. Westcott guides us through the maze of meaning Abramović weaves and helps us come through to the other side where death oddly gives birth to a whole new kind of life on this earth, if not necessarily the next. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Birthday Girl."
[Many thanks to MIT Press for providing me with a review copy of James Westcott’s When Marina Abramović Dies: A Biography.]