Controversial performance artist Marina Abramović recently revealed that she had three abortions so that she could continue her career. In an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel, the 69-year-old artist discussed her abortions.
Abramović stated that having her children would have been detrimental to her art: “I had three abortions because I was convinced that it would be a disaster for my work, that you only have so much energy in your body and I would have to share it.”
Abramović is known for making her own body the piece of art, often in unique and dangerous displays. In 1974, her piece titled Rhythm 0 was stopped because it was too dangerous: The artist invited spectators to do whatever they pleased with her body, using props including a feather, pen, book, saw, honey, salt, rose, gun, bullet, paint, whip and scissors, according to past accounts. She also has suffocated herself on stage and cut herself while stabbing the spaces between her fingers.
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The European Journal of Women’s Studies described her work in 2004 as “confronting pain, blood and physical limits of the body.”
Abramović attributed the success of male artists to not having to care for children, and wished to continue that success for herself. The artist explained that living without children allowed her to be “free” to become the art.
“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 the airport I sometimes have to think: where is my suitcase coming from this time? I don’t know if I could live differently. Also, I have no husband, no family, I’m completely free,” she said.
Despite her insistence that a family would be damaging to her career and artwork, Abramović told the Guardian in 2014 that she sometimes longs to have a family.
“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.
Abramović’s “artistic” torture displays, one of which she reportedly nearly died from, seem to point to deep psychological problems. And her abortions could possibly be contributing to it.
Abortions often are linked to mental health issues, including depression, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. Various studies have linked abortion to mental health problems, as well as physical health problems. Two studies found that the suicide rate alone is six times higher among women who have abortions, compared to those who give birth.