Marina Abramovic Cancels OMA-Designed Institute

John Hill
15. November 2017
Marina Abramovic Institute exterior (Rendering courtesy of OMA)

The Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI), unveiled by the artist and the New York office of OMA - Office for American Architecture in 2012, has been cancelled, after its budget swelled and matching funds could not be raised.

The proposed MAI would have been located in Hudson, New York, inside an old theater that also saw life as a tennis center. OMA partners Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu proposed preserving the building's exterior walls, balcony and structure and inserting new floors and spaces for MAI's very unique program: an educational center that would train people to take part in long-form performances of more than six hours, the niche that Abramovic is known for.

The May 2012 unveiling of the $8 million project coincided with fundraising efforts that aimed toward a completion date of 2014. Not only did that optimistic target come and go, the project costs rose to $31 million, leading Abramovic to announce the cancellation of the ambitious project after what has basically been five years of silence. Immediately, journalists took aim at the successful $660,000 Kickstarter campaign from 2013, part of a $2.2 million sum the artist raised since 2012 and which the New York Post argued the artist should return.

In response to the Post's front-page story from Sunday, the artist issued a press release today titled "The Art of Truth." In it she asserts that "the majority of those funds were direct contributions of my own money which I earned as an artist. I contributed over 1.1 million dollars in cash donations to the institute on top of what I spent to buy the building which I donated to MAI in 2013." Her purchase of the building with some minor repairs cost about $1.2 million.

In regards to the Kickstarter campaign ($596,667 after Kickstarter's administrative fee), she says, "The Kickstarter was created to fund schematic designs by OMA New York for the building in Hudson, NY. The bill we received from the firm for this specific design work was $655,167.10. We used the Kickstarter funds to pay OMA New York’s design fee." OMA, in turn, donated the difference between their fee and the Kickstarter post-fee amount to MAI.

Although she was "overwhelmed by the originality and beauty of [OMA's] project," attempts at making the project work within a manageable budget were unsuccessful. Therefore, Abramovic states, "The board of MAI decided to cancel the building project and to focus our efforts on bringing our projects to people around the world."

Marina Abramovic Institute interior (Rendering courtesy of OMA)

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