The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

June 14 – 17, 2013


Following its premiere at Manchester International Festival and a sold-out European tour, this groundbreaking achievement, tracing Abramovic's journey from her troubled Serbian childhood to her ascension to the world's artistic elite, makes its North American debut at the Luminato Festival.

A towering figure in the world of experimental theater

— The New York Times on Robert Wilson
Marina Abramovic has earned international renown and acclaim for the boldness and startling originality of her work. But when Abramovic decided to put her life story onstage, she opted to hand the reins to another avant-garde genius, internationally acclaimed director and visual artist Robert Wilson. The remarkable result, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, features Abramovic in dual roles-as herself and her mother-and Willem Dafoe as the narrator and her male counterpart, with music written and performed by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, and costumes by Jacques Reynaud.
Commissioned by Manchester International Festival and Teatro Real Madrid with Theater Basel, Art Basel, Holland Festival, Salford City Council and deSingel, Antwerp.


Performer - Marina Abramovic
Performer Marina Abramovic
Marina Abramovic

Since beginning her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramovic has pioneered performance as a visual art form, creating some of the most important early works. Using the body as both subject and medium, she has explored her physical and mental limits in works that ritualize the simple actions of everyday life, withstanding pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. From 1975–1988, Abramovic and German artist Ulay performed together, dealing with relations of duality. She has presented her own work at major institutions in the U.S. and Europe, and at international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale and Documenta. In 2010, Abramovic had her first major American retrospective, and performed for over 700 hours in The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale, was decorated with the Austrian Commander Cross for her contribution to art history in 2008, and holds multiple honorary doctorates from institutions around the world. The Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) will open in Hudson, New York in 2014.

Performer - Marina Abramovic
Performer - Antony
Performer Antony

Born in Sussex, England, Antony spent his childhood in England and the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to NYC at the age of 19. In 1992, he founded the performance collective Blacklips and formed Antony and the Johnsons in 1998. The group has released five albums and has collaborated with artists including Lou Reed, Björk, Boy George and Laurie Anderson. Antony and the Johnsons won the U.K.’s Mercury Prize in 2005 and has performed with orchestras and symphonies throughout the world. Their presentation of The Crying Light at the Manchester Festival 2009 was subsequently included in PS1’s presentation of 100 important performance art pieces. In 2008, Antony began to exhibit his visual artwork at Palais Des Beaux Arts in Belgium, Isis Gallery in London, Agnès B. Galerie Du Jour in Paris, and The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. In 2012, The Museum of Modern Art commissioned a one night only performance piece titled Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlights at Radio City Music Hall.

Performer - Antony
Performer - Willem Dafoe
Performer Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe first worked with Robert Wilson in his Zoom video portrait series. Dafoe is one of the original members of The Wooster Group, the NYC based theatre collective. He created and performed in all of the group’s work from 1977 to 2004, both in the U.S. and internationally. He has also performed with Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater in Miss Universal Happiness (1985) and The Idiot Savant (2009). He will next co-star with Mikhail Baryshnikov in Robert Wilson’s The Old Woman. He has worked in over 80 films in Hollywood (SpiderMan, Mississippi Burning, Last Temptation of Christ, The English Patient), independent (4:44 Last Day on Earth, Auto Focus, Wild at Heart, Boondock Saints) and world cinema (The Hunter, Dust of Time, Antichrist). He was twice nominated for an Academy Award for Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire. His upcoming releases include Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Scott Frank’s Out of the Furnace and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Performer - Willem Dafoe

Creative Team

Robert Wilson, born in 1941 in Waco, Texas, is among the world’s foremost theatre and visual artists. His works for the stage unconventionally integrate a wide variety of artistic media, including dance, movement, lighting, sculpture, music and text. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged. Wilson’s awards and honours include two Guggenheim Fellowship Awards (1971 and 1980), the nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama (1986), the Golden Lion for Sculpture from the Venice Biennale (1993), the Premio Europa Award from Taormina Arte (1997), election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2000) and Commandeur des arts et des lettres (2002), and the Jerome Robbins Award (2010) among others. With productions such as Einstein on the Beach, Deafman Glance, The CIVIL warS and A Letter for Queen Victoria, he redefined and expanded theatre. Robert’s collaborators include diverse writers and musicians such as Susan Sontag, Lou Reed, Heiner Müller, Jessye Norman, David Byrne, Tom Waits and Rufus Wainwright. Robert has also left his imprint on masterworks such as Madama Butterfly, Wagner’s Ring, A Dreamplay, Peer Gynt and The Threepenny Opera.

Robert Wilson 

Robert Wilson

Marina Abramovic

Ann-Christin Rommen


Nick Sagar

Wolfgang Wiens

Jacques Reynaud

Tomasz Jeziorski

A.J. Weissbard