If this year belonged to anyone, it was Marina Abramović. Firstly, there was her retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts (the institution's first-ever solo female show), then came the artist's takeover of English National Opera with 7 Deaths of Maria Callas. And only last week did she also enact the sell-out one-off public participation performance An Invitation To Love Unconditionally, in which she made a rare appearance in the courtyard of the RA while 'inviting participants to share a moment of stillness and togetherness through physical contact, for seven minutes'.
Love, as it seems, is a favourable emotion of Abramović's at the moment, an action that contradicts much of her life's work, which critics say has long-circled around self-harm and pain (whether or not you agree, the body of work amassed over Abramović's 40-year career certainly isn't for the fainthearted). Yet, since her near brush with death earlier this year, the artist has turned a corner, one, she says, that brings in the light. Certifying this is her Unconditional Love Manifesto (2023), which was written and performed this year and has now taken up new life in the artist's Unconditional Love Triptych (2023).
Released by CIRCA ARTS for a limited time only, the series centres around the artist's handwritten words, decorated with red pastel childlike swirls while featuring an outline of both the artist's hands. Collectors can choose between purchasing an individually signed print for £120+VAT or three prints for £300+VAT.
Speaking from the heart, Abramović poetically said about the transformative power of art in an artist's statement bound to resonate with people worldwide. 'These prints are made with love', begins the passage, a place Abramović has made art from since she sprung onto the performance art map in the 1970s. 'I wanted to try something new and make this work as affordable as possible for everyone. Something for the kids to hang on their walls... I hope the words in this manifesto inspire the transformation that our world so desperately needs. Urgently. My love letter to the world at this turbulent time, from the bottom of my heart. Love, Marina'.
Making with love is something that's becoming increasingly commodified in the arts. Words like 'authenticity' and 'craftsmanship' run rampant, but they don't carry weight anymore due to mass consumption and desire. I interviewed a friend who is a leather craftsman a couple of years ago, and I remember him making a small declaration to me during that interview that's stuck with me to this day: 'If it's not made with love, I don't want it.' Lots of people say this now, but he really meant it. Making from the heart isn't a trend, or at least shouldn't be a product of capitalism and consumption. It's a way of life. Thank god we have people in this world like him and Abramović whose art and livelihood aren't products of capitalism but real feelings, emotions and desires.