The performance art pioneer Marina Abramović was born in 1946 in Belgrade, Serbia (then Yugoslavia). She moved to Amsterdam in 1975, where she began collaborating with Frank Uwe Laysiepen (Ulay) on works such as Imponderabilia (1977). In 1997 she won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, and in 2010 the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York held the retrospective The Artist Is Present. Her latest work, The Hero, is being shown on screens worldwide until 31 August. The public mint for her first NFT, The Hero 25FPSwill take place at 2pm UTC on July 25.
Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s) at the Shed, New York
Saraceno works with spiders and made these huge glass cages where spiders were put inside and created different types of webs. It was really to do with the planet and the human condition and so on. It was a fascinating show that took months and months to put on, because he started with the empty glass cubes and the spiders had to create the work. It was interactive and innovative – I liked it a lot.
The last concert I saw was Sigur Rós from Iceland. I’ve followed them for a long time and this was a rare concert they performed in New York at the Beacon theater. What’s so interesting about the lead singer, Jónsi, is that he has invented his own language. The performance started very slowly. Jónsi went into a trance and created this kind of energy vortex – a volcanic tornado of energy – which the public became part of and could not escape. It had a really frenetic quality that I liked.
For me right now, NFTs are something of great importance. The work that Nadya Tolokonnikova [of Pussy Riot] is doing with Unicorn DAO – a decentralised, autonomous organization that markets NFTs from female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists – is very inspiring to me. They raised $6.7m for Ukraine earlier this year and recently launched legalabortion.eth, a wallet where people can donate crypto that will be fully distributed to seven reproductive rights organizations following the supreme court’s Roe v Wade reversal.
The Orchard at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York
Last month I saw The Orchard, directed by Igor Golyak. This radical hybrid production was a new interpretation of The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov, and the audience could decide between watching either an in-person theater show or a digital piece at home. I thought this was very inspiring. Baryshnikov himself was cast as the lead and did an amazing job. Normally, dancers don’t play characters in Chekhov, and this really captured my attention. This very modern approach gave a completely new life to a classic play.
I have loved numerology and astrology for a long time. There’s lots of bullshit in this area but somehow I was lucky to find the right people. There are some in India who are very precise about reading the stars, so that in fact they can predict things with extreme precision. I have a friend in Vienna called Nada Vondrianna, and in November she predicted what is happening in Ukraine now. If I want to do something important – work or exhibitions – I will always consult her: where are the stars? Is it a full moon or not a full moon?
Omen Azen, New York
This was the first Japanese restaurant in SoHo, Manhattan in the 80s. It has been run for generations by the same family. The food is always the same and there is no music playing loud so you can talk. The decor is unchanging and this was the place where Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, all these people would go. And these people – whoever is still alive – are still coming. It’s not a superficial place and it’s one of my favorites.
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (2010)
This is about Tony Hsieh’s company Zappos (which produces shoes) and about his philosophy: how workers have to be happy in order to actually deliver happiness around the world. Two years ago he died a tragic death in his own house – he was reportedly taking too many drugs – so it’s kind of amazing to read this knowing he could not use his own theory to change his own life. It’s very interesting to see how we can create a system that can make other people happy.