Bob Wilson’s Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

A mutual admiration society and some striking sets are on display in Giada Colagrande's "Bob Wilson's Life and Death of Marina Abramovic."

A mutual admiration society and some striking sets are on display in Giada Colagrande’s “Bob Wilson’s Life and Death of Marina Abramovic.” Less clear is the thrust of Robert Wilson’s staged representation of Abramovic’s life, seen here in snippets that retain their thrilling weirdness yet rob them of meaning. Viewers looking to understand Abramovic’s history and work are better off watching the recent “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” since the Belgrade-born performance artist seems merely a supporting player in Colagrande’s understanding of Wilson’s imagining of her life. Satcasts on PBS and Arte-type nets are possible.

Robert Wilson’s avant-garde “Life and Death of Marina Abramovic” was jointly commissioned by Spain’s Teatro Real and the U.K.’s Manchester Intl. Festival. Showcasing the director’s mesmeric, rigid stagecraft and featuring Willem Dafoe (Colagrande’s hubby), Antony Hegarty and Abramovic herself among others, the experimental work looks intriguing, but the docu captures neither its power nor the excitement behind its creation. Only Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons, has the perspicacity to analyze the piece and its creators intelligently, whereas the others largely stick to platitudinous praise. Abramovic remains mercurial behind thick commedia dell’arte makeup.

Bob Wilson’s Life and Death of Marina Abramovic


  • Production: A Teatro Real Madrid presentation of an Art + Vibes production, in collaboration with Collateral Films. (International sales: Rai Trade, Rome.) Produced by Max Brun. Co-producer, Guido Cella. Directed by Giada Colagrande.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Tommaso Borgstrom; editor, Natalie Cristiani; sound, Pino Pischetola; line producer, Teresa Antonin. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days -- Special Presentations), Aug. 29, 2012. Running time: 58 MIN.
  • With: With: Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovic, Willem Dafoe, Antony Hegarty, Christopher Nell, William Basinski, Svetlana Spajic (English dialogue)
  • Music By: