MOSCOW: 'Strictly red and black’ was the dress code and performance art the draw at the opening of Marina Abramovic’s retrospective in Moscow last night. And so the expansive foyer of the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture came to resemble an avant-garde Twilight convention as all 300 attendees complied with the artist’s directive.
In the red camp was Garage patron (and now Garage magazine editor) Dasha Zhukova, dazzling in a peplum-fronted crimson velvet dress by Tom Ford; Abramovic herself and W Hotels Global Fashion Director Jenne Lombardo also wore scarlet. Revellers in black included Wendi Murdoch, artist Dinos Chapman, model Maryna Linchuk and boyfriend Salvatore Morale, who DJed the after-party.
Iconoclastic performance artist Abramovic came to Moscow to prepare her ‘The Artist is Present’ Garage show fresh from a three-month residency at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. At the end of that show, whose title Garage adopted, close friend and collaborator Riccardo Tisci threw Abramovic a party and dressed her in a gown made from the skins of 101 snakes.
Abramovic’s master works include explorations of emotional dependency and bodily pain, all of which are "reperformed" or represented through video and photographic documentation at Garage. The piece for which she may be known most widely, The House with the Ocean View, is also there. (If Carrie Bradshaw’s first date with The Russian—a midnight dinner at The Russian Samovar followed by a gallery jaunt—rings any bells, you’ll know the one.)
‘It really is the first time that I’ve seen the body of work in that kind of scale, and it’s very, very emotional,’ Abramovic told us. ‘Yesterday, I spent the day crying. I said, “What am I going to do now? I just have to die, because this is it.” It’s like I’m ending one period of my life and now have to start all over again.’
The opening also marked a transition point for Garage. Next autumn, the art space will leave the renovated Constructivist garage that has served as its home since 2007 for a newly revamped building in the Russian capital’s Gorky Park. For staffers, the glossy show opening felt a world away from the launch four years ago, when Amy Winehouse performed in a then-rundown bus depot.
‘I can’t think of a more fitting conclusion to this journey than sharing it with you,’ Zhukova said before treating guests to performances by pianist Rosey Chan and rakish violinist Charlie Siem, who seduced the crowd with every pluck.
Gliding out across polished-concrete floors past midnight, guests accepted canvas goody bags with edible relics within: boxed, silver-dusted dark chocolate casts of Abramovic’s nose. Faster than anyone could ask, ‘Dessert or eBay?’, a nibble despatched with a nostril. Delicious.
ELLE was a guest of W Hotels, who supported the exhibition.