The Abramović Method for Music

20 – 24 March 2019


Start by selecting two dates and times on which to collectively spend time with the Abramovic Method, i. e. learn to heighten your senses through different exercises and enter a state of concentration.

Allow your experiences to settle – in order to then use these experiences to enjoy a special kind of evening concert in which all the rules and conventions of traditional concert-going are dispensed with.

Participation in the exercises and the visit to the concert form an inseparable whole.

Being present – a key tenet in the creative work and the life of Marina Abramović. Long before the term “mindfulness” became fashionable, consciously taking in the present with all one’s senses – withstanding it, even – was and continues to be a principle underpinning many important works by this performance artist. Marina Abramović’s art is uncompromising, unflinching and uncomfortable. Time and again, this artist has placed herself in extreme situations without fearing either danger or pain: experiences on the edge, undergone by the mind and the body. Yet, Marina Abramović is just as radical – if not more so – when engaging with the seemingly simple activities of everyday life as she is when working with knives, fire and blood. Here too, she explores the boundaries, in performances that can last hours, days or weeks. It is not least through works such as there – one example being what is probably her most famous performance, “The artist is present” at New York’s MoMA, where she spent 736 hours sitting in a chair and gazing into eyes of viewers – that Marina Abramović ultimately developed her own “method”: a combination of different exercises through which audiences can also be placed in that state of contemplation and concentration that facilitates focused perception.

Being present – something which is also a key to interpreting music. “To listen to music”, says Marina Abramović, “you have to be present inside the space with all your senses. But our lives are difficult and busy: When we go to a concert, we come with all our baggage – full of our worries, full of the things we have to do after the concert. That’s why I thought it was so important to create a method for the music, where you have this space in which you prepare yourself.”

It is precisely in order to unlock such new ways of hearing that, together with her collaborator Lynsey Peisinger, Marina Abramović has developed a project that dispenses with the rules and conventions of traditional concert-going and which instead combines practical exercises from the method with a special concert to facilitate an intense communal hearing experience. Marina Abramović remains close-lipped, revealing only the following: “Everything is going to be very different. And we hope that this will also be helpful for the experience, that it will be something out-of-the-box, something different to the normal concert hall experience.”

Photo credits: Marina Abramović © Dusan Reljin, 2018; Marina Abramović, 512 Hours, Performance, Duration: 512 hours, The Serpentine Gallery, London 2014, Photography © Marco Anelli, Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives and Serpentine Gallery, London; Sitar © Alte Oper Frankfurt, Tibor Pluto; all other photos © Alte Oper Frankfurt, Norbert Miguletz

Method and concert

For Marina Abramović, practising the exercises in her method offers the opportunity to create moments of silence, contemplation and concentration, and to forge an energy-charged space in which all the senses are heightened and the mind focused, in which one can find oneself but also create contact with other people. The aim of every exercise in this method is to facilitate complete focus on the moment while simultaneously experiencing the effect of performing seemingly simple activities, an effect that begins to become more palpable the longer these activities are engaged in. It is precisely this heightened perception that we wish to provide you access to: join the group and spend some time with the Abramović Method and its exercises – not just in preparation for the concert, but also for the sake of a profound experience in and of itself. It remains entirely up to you which of the offered exercises you practise, and for how long and with which intensity.

“In classical music, there are specific rituals and established protocols and customs in terms of how people experience concerts”, Marina Abramović believes. Her aim: “To sort of strip the experience down to something where there aren’t any rules and codes.” and to give “And people the option of hearing a classical music concert in a totally different way.” This is why, during the concert that completes the “A Different Way of Hearing” project, the rituals of traditional concert-going are turned on their head – by, for example, changing the position of both musicians and listeners in the hall, removing the standardised concert structure of two halves, and by spreading the event across five hours. Guiding elements of conventional concert-going, such as prior knowledge of composers and works, are immaterial here. Instead, the artists provide an insight into the diversity of their own musical cultures and guide the audience through a whole variety of eras, genres and musical regions.

Participating Musicians
ARIS QUARTETT Sting quartet
(Clarinet, Duduk and others)

FAQ: Questions about “A Different Way of Hearing”

Who is the project aimed at?
Participation is open to anyone over the age of 16, and not subject to any conditions or prior knowledge. If you are a parent, we ask for your understanding that you cannot bring along your babies or small children.
We also expressly invite people with disabilities to participate – the Great Hall and its entranceways are wheelchair-accessible, and there are always facilitators on hand to assist with any questions or problems. However, depending on your disability, not every exercise may be suitable for you.
Knowledge of foreign languages is not required.

How is the project structured?
When buying their ticket, participants must decide on two of the fixed 3.5 h method sessions (see overview) that we will be offering over the course of four days. During these sessions, you and the other participants will actively experience the exercises of the Abramović Method. Participation in the exercises and the visit to the concert form an inseparable whole.

What does the Abramović Method involve?
The Abramović Method was developed by Marina Abramović in order to induce a focused state in the participants. These are simple activities that anyone can do: counting grains of rice, gazing continuously into the eyes of a stranger sitting opposite you, gazing at a coloured surface, walking in slow motion, moving through a room with blindfolded eyes, or standing on a platform. The exercises are offered on all dates.

Will I be left to my own devices during the Abramović Method?
Fundamentally, the following applies: every visitor decides for him- or herself which exercise to choose and how much time to spend doing them – or whether to occasionally sit back and observe. Facilitators specially trained by Marina Abramović’s team will be present in the hall and happy to assist you with the exercises.

What is the best way to prepare for the Abramović Method?
We recommend wearing comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes. Anything that might distract you must be handed in to the cloakroom for the duration of the exercises and the concerts.
No alcohol should be consumed before or during the Abramović Method.
Aside from this, no previous experience or particular levels of physical fitness are required; anyone can participate. Just bring along your curiosity and an open mind!

Can I take my mobile phone into the Great Hall with me?
For your own sake: no! The cloakroom team will be happy to relieve you of
any distractions: watches and mobile phones must be handed in for the duration of the Abramović Method and the concert. Ideally, you should leave your valuables and electronic devices at home.

Do I have to arrive punctually?
For the concert, yes; it is possible to join the Abramović Method sessions late. However, to facilitate a profound experience, we recommend that you make use of the entire Abramović Method period.

Can I leave the hall during the Abramović Method sessions or the concerts?
Yes, at any time both during the Abramović Method sessions and the concert! The concert will be broadcast in all public spaces of the Alte Oper, so that you will be able to still listen along outside the Great Hall.

Can I buy a ticket just for the concert?
No, the Abramović Method and the concert itself form a unit. The Abramović Method are not least designed to prepare participants for the concert.

Will there be any catering available?
Water and small snacks will be available in the foyers during the Abramović
Method and concert. The Alte Oper’s Opéra and Rosso restaurants will be closed on the day of the concert.

Will Marina Abramović be attending in person?
Marina Abramović will be present at the Alte Oper during the “A Different Way of Hearing” project, both at selected moments on the method-session days as well as during the concert itself, where she will initially practice exercises from her method together with the audience.

One more piece of information:
Some workshops will be documented in photographs and on film. The images will later be used in various media, such as a book, online, on social media and for PR work. By choosing a workshop, you consent to the publication of the photographs and footage. Your consent to having your image published is given without remuneration. The workshops will not be negatively affected by the photography and filming.

A conversation with Marina Abramovic´ and Lynsey Peisinger

Biography Marina Abramović and Lynsey Peisinger

Marina Abramović © Dusan Reljin, Lynsey Peisinger © Axel Lambrette

Biography Marina Abramović

Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramović has pioneered performance as a visual art form, creating some of the most important early works. The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring her physical and mental limits in works that ritualize the simple actions of everyday life, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. From 1975–88, Abramović and the German artist Ulay performed together, dealing with relations of duality.

Abramović returned to solo performances in 1989. She has presented her work at major institutions in the US and Europe, including the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven,1985; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1990; Neue National Galerie, Berlin, 1993, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1995. She has also participated in many large scale international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (1976 and 1997) and Documenta VI, VII and IX, Kassel (1977, 1982 and 1992). Recent performances include “The House With The Ocean View” at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York in 2002, and the Performance “7 Easy Pieces” at Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2005. In 2010, Abramović had her first major U.S. retrospective and simultaneously performed for over 700 hours in “The Artist is Present” at Museum of Modern Art, New York. Using herself and the public as medium, Abramović performed for three months at the Serpentine Gallery in London, 2014; the piece was titled after the duration of the work, “512 Hours”. She was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale for the video installation and performance “Balkan Baroque.” In 2008 she was decorated with the Austrian Commander Cross for her contribution to Art History. In 2013, the French Minister of Culture accepted her as an Officer to the Order of Arts and Letters. In addition to these and other awards, Abramović also holds multiple honorary doctorates from institutions around the world. Abramović founded the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), a platform for immaterial and long durational work to create new possibilities for collaboration among thinkers of all fields.

The institute inhabited its most complete form to date in 2016 in collaboration with NEON in “As One”, Benaki Museum, Athens. Her most recent publication is Walk Through Walls: A Memoir, Published by Crown Archetype on October 25, 2016. Her retrospective, The Cleaner opened at Moderna Museet, Stockholm in February 2017 and will tour to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Oslo, Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, and Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

Biography Lynsey Peisinger
is a performer, choreographer and director. In 2017, she collaborated with Marina Abramović on The Cleaner, a collective performance involving thirty five choirs at the Eric Ericssonhallen in Stockholm, presented by Moderna Musset as part of Abramović’s first major European retrospective. In 2014, she collaborated with Marina Abramović at the Serpentine Gallery in London for the show 512 Hours. She has cast and trained performers for Abramović on more than 15 projects. The Abramović Method has bee created in collaboration with Peisinger, who has built and developed each iteration.

Her recent theatre works include MIDNIGHT, which premiered at Radialsystem Theatre in Berlin in 2016 and Rochambeau, a work in development, both in collaboration with director Tilman Hecker. She was the assistant director on Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter and The Old Woman, both directed by Robert Wilson. She has presented works at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, at Performa Paço at Paço das Artes in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Robert Wilson’s 2nd Annual Berlin Benefit, Hyeres Fashion and Photography Festival, Kunstfest Weimar, SESC Pompeia, Radialsystem Theatre, Alexandrinsky Theatre, and Moderna Musset. She received her MFA in choreography from the Dance Conservatory at Purchase College.

We sincerly thank our patrons whose support made it possible to realize “A Different Way of Hearing”

Main Patrons

Additional Patron

Project Partners

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