May 8, 2012
Plans for Marina Abramović’s OMA-designed Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) were revealed yesterday at the Marina Abramović Breakfast, hosted at MoMA PS1. Since then, it’s been all things Marina on the internets, with every architecture and design blog commenting on the peculiar spaces and bizarro programs that will fill out the center, to be located in an abandoned 20,000 square foot theater in Hudson, New York. When the project was announced last winter, as much chatter was devoted to the artist’s surprising partnership with Rem Koolhaas’ OMA (the smiling couple, seen here) as was to Abramović’s fanciful talk about hour-long performance pieces to be held within the new facilities.
Under the direction of OMA-partner Shohei Shigematsu, the project has since developed into an intricate interior scheme with plans to insert a new programmatic box containing the central performance space, with room for 650 attendees–each of which, according to Abramović, will have to don whit lab coats and sign a contract to ensure they remain on the premises and observant for no less than 6 hours.
Tucked discreetly behind the theater’s brick exterior and an erstwhile colonnaded entry, the volume will be encircled by a series of rooms of various functions. There will be a library and classrooms, but, more spectacularly, a levitation room, a digital temple, a crystal room, a quartz resting room, and, perhaps most useful, a sleep chamber. Cue laughter.
All of these room are to be visually connected to the central stage, so as to promote diversionary relief from the possibly “quite boring”–in Shigematsu’s own words–performances. Shigematsu compared the venue’s spatial dynamic to that of a baseball stadium, wherein the main spectacle is a stuffy, if precise affair, too long and too far at a remove to sustain prolonged engagement: “What’s interesting is that it’s so long that you can watch the game while you’re doing something else.”
OMA will also design the venue’s lighting and furniture, the latter being tooled and fitted with wheels so that reclining visitors can be rolled from one room to another and up/down the spiral lamp that will connect the educational facilities to the rooftop cafe. Abramović hopes to open MAI by 2012, but first has to raise the $15 million to fund construction. Let the art/fundraising parties begin!
All images: OMA