Marina Abramović
7 Deaths of Maria Callas

On until 11 November 2023

Does self-obsession make a diva or is it the product of her fame? It would be unfair to appraise this line-up of arias from Verdi, Bizet, and Puccini sung by seven sopranos as an operatic production because their perfectly competent renderings are mere footnotes to Abramović’s narcissism who is the work’s only protagonist. Thankfully, this prima donna doesn’t sing but her body constantly dominates the stage in giant projections that humiliate Tosca and Carmen as if their deaths were nothing compared to Marina’s.

When the heroine speaks, she spouts nonsensical last words which confirm that cynical grand delusion has been the Abramović method for decades. This has none of the charm of Norma Desmond, none of the heartbreak of Norma Jane Baker, and none of the dramatic charge of Bellini’s Norma, either.

Not content with her stardom – and this production is a testament to the unchanging nature of showbusiness – Abramović wants to destroy all performance and all women until she holds the monopoly over stage death. But this abuse is only for vanity because Marina trades any pretence for the crowd’s mindless cheer. And it’s on us that we prefer a train crash over a fall from grace.

notes and notices is a collection of short and curt exhibition reviews.