​marina abramović says jay z used her for picasso baby

The performance artist says Jay Z broke his promise to support her foundation after adapting her art piece.

by Charlotte Gush
20 May 2015, 1:29pm

In 2013, Marina Abramović allowed Jay Z to adapt her famous performance art work The Artist is Present for his Picasso Baby music video. It was a surprising move, with many in the art world wondering why she had done it, and now it seems Marina is wondering the same thing. In an interview with art magazine Spike, Abramović says she feels used, having agreed that Jay could use her work with one proviso: "he adapted my work only under one condition: that he would help my institute. Which he didn't," adding, "I am very pissed by this." She is referring to the Marina Abramović Institute, an incubator and platform for "immaterial art and long durational works" of many different disciplines, which she founded.

In the original artwork, Abramović sat in silence at a table in the atrium of New York's Museum of Modern Art, while visitors were invited to sit opposite her, in what many reported to be a very moving staring match. She sat there every day of the exhibition, totaling 736 hours and 30 minutes. Wanting to add a little art-sparkle to his modern art referencing Picasso Baby, a track from the album Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay Z adapted her work, performing the song live for six hours at New York's Pace Gallery, with attendees (many from the art world) invited to dance with Jay as he performed directly to them.

Speaking about how the collaboration was planned, Abramović says, "The day before, he came to my office and I gave him an entire Power Point presentation and said: okay, you can help me, because I really need help to build this thing. Then he just completely used me. And that wasn't fair… [I was] totally used and came out with nothing. It's very unfair."

She describes the process as being very different from her work with Lady Gaga. During the singer's ARTPOP period, saying she, "has done great work for me." Gaga took instruction in the Abramović method and included the artist's work, alongside others like Jeff Koons, in her artRave project.

For any other pop culture hopefuls wanting to collaborate with the great Serbian artist, unfortunately it seems Jay Z has ruined it, leaving Abramović resolute: "I will never do it again, that I can say. Never. I was really naive in this kind of world. It was really new to me, and I had no idea that this would happen. It's so cruel, it's incredible. I will stay away from it for sure."

Jay Z
Picasso Baby
Marina Abramovic