Marina Abramovic (b. 1946)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Marina Abramovic (b. 1946)

Double Edge

Marina Abramovic (b. 1946)
Double Edge
oak and stainless steel butcher knives
116 1/8 x 20¼ x 2¼in. (295 x 51.3 x 5.7cm.)
Executed in 1995
Kappatos Gallery, Athens.
Private Collection, Athens.
Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki State Museum of Contemporary Art, Sequences, December 2009-January 2010.
Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki State Museum of Contemporary Art, Islands Never Found (Isole Mai Trovate), July-September 2010.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Marina Abramovic has championed performance as a visual art form since her early days in Belgrade in the 1970s. Provocative, daring and even alarming at times, Abramovic performances push the limits of her physical and mental endurance, as well as that of her audience. Her performances have a certain affinity to those of Joseph Beuys, Yves Klein, Bruce Nauman and Vito Acconci; but by using her body as the central subject and medium, her art has a singularly unique quality. Abramovic work not only tests the boundaries of the physical and the mental, but also explores the complex relationship between performer and audience. It is through her art that Abramovic aims to make people free themselves from taboos and social conventions. She has said: 'I'm interested in art that disturbs and that pushes that moment of danger.' (Marina Abramovic, Artist Body, Milan, Edizioni
Charta, 1998, p.4); and by pushing the moment of danger, the viewer is forced to focus on the here and now. Double Edge is an installation of an oak wood ladder with eight stainless-steel knives attached as rungs. The work alludes to the French artist Gina Pane's Non-aestheticized Climbing (1971, Paris), when she famously climbed barefoot up a ladder with razor blade rungs. The idea of physical involvement and connotation of pain in Double Edge are evidently at play, but unlike Pane's daring action, the upturned knives of the ladder confront the viewer as an unnerving object of obstacle. The sharpness of the knives is made all the more vivid with the object being a ladder, making the work a forceful reminder that pain, suffering and endurance are central to Abramovic's oeurvre.
The appearance of knives in Double Edge at once harks back to Abramovic's seminal performance Rhythm 10 (1973), in which she rhythmically plunged knives between her fingers. Whereas Rhythm 10 and other subsequent performances are timed-based and address the state of consciousness of the artist, Double Edge focuses on the here and now. Abramovic would later include three sets of knife ladders in The House with the Ocean View - a twelve-day fast and performance in the Sean Kelly Gallery (2002, New York). Leaning against the platform on which Abramovic had placed herself were the ladders, with rungs made of sharpened knives preventing her from descending and the audience from ascending. Here the spatial inaccessibility meant she was cut off from the world. By enclosing herself in the environment of a temporary bedroom, sitting room and bathroom on view to the public, there is a sense of collective experience. However, the ladder becomes the physical and symbolic barrier between performer and viewer, providing a necessary distance for Abramovic to contemplate in solitude, and to test her physical and mental endurance. Double Edge is, in short, testament to her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation.
As Chrissie Iles proffers: 'the isolated fasting and the knife ladders suggested an art historical symbolism similar to that of the skeleton, which Abramovic has often used in direct superimposition with her own body, evoking mortality, suffering and the inescapable ravaging of the flesh by time. (Marina Abramovic, Chrissie Iles, The House with the Ocean View, Phaidon Press, London, 2008, p.105-106)

More from Post-War & Contemporary Art

View All
View All