Nov 7, 2012 5:12PM

From: BOMB 84/Summer 2003

"Radical change can only happen with some kind of tragedy that totally shakes your life. The only changes I can expect are from my own performance. I don’t learn in life otherwise." - Marina Abramović

Laurie Anderson: I’ve been trying to find a picture I took of you floating in the ocean in 1980. It was a beautiful thing. 

Marina Abramović: Was it the ocean or was I under a waterfall? 

LA: It was the ocean, with beaches that go slowly down to the water. There is no cliff, so I don’t know how I got up in the air looking down at you. Maybe when I find the photograph you can tell me. 

MA: Okay, if I can remember. So let’s start with simple questions and then we’ll come to art. When you were a child, did you have some experiences that you can’t explain rationally?

LA:  I made them up. I tried to invent situations that were irrational, that had never happened before.

MA: Such as? 

LA: A man is walking down the road. A Canadian goose falls right on his head; at the same moment there’s a triple rainbow and the guy has a heart attack. 

MA: That’s a fantastic image. Have you ever done something with it? 

LA: Occasionally I use it to snap myself out of trances. What about you? 

MA: I have very strange dreams now from which I wake up in complete horror. They repeat during different periods of my life. I can’t explain them. They have something to do with the disturbance of an order that is not supposed to be disturbed. I come from a military family—maybe that’s why I have these sorts of dreams. I have one where I’m in front of a huge army of five thousand soldiers in perfectly pressed uniforms. I’m inspecting them, and I go up to every soldier and take one button from each uniform and throw it away. I destroy the symmetry, and that is not allowed. Then I wake up in a panic. 

LA: It’s interesting that you use symmetry as an example of order, because to me symmetry is both dangerous and dull. It’s rhyming pictures. Maybe it’s because the two sides of our brains need things to match. In your dream, did you take a different button from each person? 

MA: No, always the same. 

LA: So weren’t you creating just another orderly situation? 

MA: The thing is, I’m interested in this idea that we organize everything and then at the last minute, everything changes, takes a different turn.