(Andrea Kasiske’s article appeared in DW, 3/27; Photo: A scene from “The Artist is Present.”)

The Serbian artist is redesigning her legendary 2010 performance “The Artist is Present,” and will auction tickets to the installation at the Sean Kelly gallery in New York. Proceeds will go to a charity for Ukraine.

“What is the duty of an artist? What is the duty of a human being? How we can help?” Marina Abramovic wondered in an interview last week with DW, deeply upset by the war in Ukraine.

The day after the Russian invasion, she said in a video that “an attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on humanity and it must be stopped.” Unlike the earlier wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, this one, she says, feels close, virtually in her own “backyard.”

So she found a way, using her art, to support an aid organization. On April 16 at New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery, the three people who donated the most in a recent auction will sit opposite her in the new edition of her iconic 2010 performance “The Artist is Present.”

The auction on the Artsy platform ended on March 25, and the proceeds went to the Direct Relief aid organization, which, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Health Ministry, provides medical aid as well as long-term support for people affected by the war in Ukraine.

Active in Ukraine before the war

For an artist living in New York, the perceived proximity of the war may sound strange. But Abramovic grew up as the daughter of partisans in Yugoslav Serbia, and has visited Ukraine several times. Just last year, she visited the Babyn Jar Holocaust memorial outside Kyiv, where her most expansive installation to date was inaugurated.

“The Crystal Wall of Crying” is a 40-meter-long interactive “wailing wall” made of coal and studded with giant quartz crystals. It commemorates the site of one of the largest mass shootings in World War II: Over two days in September 1941, more than 33,000 people, mainly Jewish, were murdered by members of the German Wehrmacht and the Sonderkommando SS in the ravine of Babyn Jar.

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