Marina Abramovic 512 Hours – reviews of Serpentine show

Critics are mesmerised by Abramovic's strange, hypnotic new interactive performance

Marina Abramovic
(Image credit: WILL OLIVER/AFP/Getty Images)

What you need to know

Performance artist Marina Abramovic's new work, 512 Hours has opened at the Serpentine Gallery, London. Belgrade-born, New York-based Abramovic is best known for her performances exploring the relationship between performer and audience including The Artist is Present, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010.

For her latest work 512 Hours, especially conceived for the Serpentine Gallery, Abramovic will perform from 10am to 6pm, six days a week. Abramovic moves around the space occasionally using a selection of props and interacting with the audience, who must leave all bags and electronic devices in lockers. Runs until 25 August.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

What the critics like

"I'd arrived, I confess, supposing that I would leave quickly, hooting with derision," says Chris Blackhurst in The Independent. In fact, it was a profoundly relaxing, meditative experience, akin to being hypnotised – trance-like in the middle of London on a weekday afternoon.

"Until you've seen it, I can't convey in words how strange the experience is," says Richard Dorment in the Daily Telegraph. "I hated every second," adds Dorment, but "I can't deny I felt the power of her work", and in the end it might have been of more benefit to a workaholic journalist than an art student.

The point is, "when you do nothing for long enough, you start seeing through the veil of distraction to a new everything", says Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times. It might sound borderline bonkers, but Abramovic is direct, earthy and witty and no matter how abstract her art may seem, it is, literally in the case of this show, full of her vivid personality.

What they don't like

"The gathering has the feel of a religious sect, hoping to be touched by its messianic leader," says Ben Luke in the Evening Standard. But it's hard to know how much it's a tranquil, life-affirming search for self, and how much a chance to worship in the cult of Marina.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.