Design rendering of the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art.

Marina Abramović Responds to Backlash over Crowdfunding Her Performance Art Institute

Following Marina Abramović’s announcement that she was abandoning her plans to establish an institute of performance art in the Hudson River Valley in New York, the artist has come under fire for failing to return money that she had raised through a Kickstarter campaign in support of the project.

On November 12, the New York Post featured the artist on the cover of its Sunday edition with a headline that read, “Art of the ‘Steal’.” The article questions what the artist did with $2.2 million in donations.

In response, Abramović said that more than $1.1 million were her own contributions. She also issued an open statement explaining where the funds went and denouncing the publication’s report. “I reject the New York Post’s allegations of theft,” she wrote. “The Kickstarter funds were directed for the purpose intended. Over the last four years, the original vision of the Institute evolved and I am proud of this work.”

Launched in 2013, the Kickstarter successfully raised $661,452. However, as stated on the project page, the campaign was only meant to cover the first phase of the project: the design. Once the company deducted its administrative fees, Abramović used the remaining $596,667 to commission schematic designs from Rem Koolhaas’s OMA.

Dubbed the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art, the venue was meant to be a place where artists could create experimental works and where audiences could participate in and learn about performance art. Abramović officially confirmed that the project was dead during an event at the Serpentine Gallery in London last month.

Her complete statement is as follows:

On November 12, 2017 the New York Post published a front page story about me in the Sunday edition with the headline “The Art of the Steal.” Normally I wouldn’t care what was written in a tabloid newspaper, but the allegations are so false, libelous and in every way untrue that I must address them.

The article claims that I raised 2.2 million dollars for my institute since 2011 which is not true. In fact 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.

The Kickstarter campaign accounts for $661,452. After Kickstarter’s administrative fee, the amount we received from the campaign was $596,667.

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.

The New York Post article also claims that we did not reward all of our Kickstarter backers. As reported by ArtNet on November 7, 2017, the only people that did not receive their rewards are the ones that did not respond to our requests for information. We welcome those backers that did not receive what they deserved to contact the institute directly via Kickstarter or on our website.

When we received the proposal from OMA New York, we were overwhelmed by the originality and beauty of the project. However, they informed us that the project cost would exceed 31 million dollars. We looked for a cost effective solution together with OMA New York and a consultant but the building had many issues to make it work within a manageable budget. The board of MAI decided to cancel the building project and to focus our efforts on bringing our projects to people around the world.

To date, MAI has partnered with many institutions and artists internationally. We have presented 13 art experiences in 12 countries the majority of which were free of entrance and open to the public. The events have been attended by over 675,000 people. Most importantly, wherever we go, we strive to foster emerging performance artists and create a platform for their work while also engaging the broader public in participatory exercises from the Abramović Method.

I reject the New York Post’s allegations of theft. The Kickstarter funds were directed for the purpose intended. Over the last four years, the original vision of the Institute evolved and I am proud of this work.

Marina Abramović