Art historian Martin Gayford meets the 'grandmother of performance art', Marina Abramovic, and learns why she happily endures pain and humiliation in public in the name of art.
Marina Abramovic is the 'grandmother of performance art'. Her work, which has brought her world-wide fame, has included lacerating her body, starving herself, living entirely in public in a gallery for 12 days and exchanging places for an afternoon with an Amsterdam prostitute.
To Martin Gayford, the art historian, performance art was a mystery. But his meeting with the surprisingly cheerful Abramovic in Venice upsets some of his prejudices and gives him an insight into the rigour and the almost spiritual discipline of the artist's work.