Marina Abramovic No Intermission at Theater Carré in Amsterdam

It’s like going to the theatre for the first time. And it has nothing to do with the place where people flock to watch stories unfold we all know.

No fiction is required, and visitors, as conduits of the everyday, make things happen all around the theatre: they transport bricks that have recently flooded the foyer (Maria Stamenkovic Herranz Building 2 performance); their naked feet move around the sand that covers the elegant rooms, while their shoes lie haphazardly in red-carpet corridors as if they were changing in a gym dressing room.

During this 6-hour event, Carré Theatre becomes a place of infinite possibilities.

Marina Abramovic captivates her audience from the first minute she steps on stage, giving a taste of her famous method: breathing exercises soothe the hyperactive rhythm of our lives, eye-connection with strangers reawakens us to unconditional love and attention.

At the end of the first-hour masterclass, provided with a serene calm I personally haven’t experienced in a long time, we are asked to freely move around the theatre to discover performances tucked away in every nook. As if relinquishing the ordinary in exchange for a temporary experimental space, it’s like entering a modern Bacchanale where personal moods change and liberating practices emerge.

A group gather around an actor (Abel Azcona) seated on a chair: a girl is gazing at him intently, while a tangible story emerges between the two, resulting in a visually impactful artistic composition. He slowly collapses, descending from the chair. This is when people rush to his assistance, reviving and supporting him and his body, which ends up being transported throughout the theatre.

Behind the scenes, a spontaneous orchestra plays a cacophony of sounds while hung loudspeakers blare engaged statements. In each loggia there’s a typewriter on which visitors are asked to write down their thoughts about social justice, rights, freedom, and environmental degradation. This is Yannis Pappas’ The Revise, which «allows collective or individual working and reworking on concepts of rights and wrongs while protesting our freedom of expression», according to the artists’ words.

Funny fact: clumsy Gen Z members struggle to make typewriters work, while their boomer moms-dads-even grandparents demonstrate innate expertise in inserting ink and paper.

A quick stop at the toilet. In this anti-scenic place par excellence, a megaphone shouts the irrelevance of gender distinction and the fact that genitals do not define gender. Meanwhile, in the labyrinth corridors of the neo-Renaissance-style theatre, someone plays exotic/disco-pop music at the first-floor bar. Berlin-based artist Anthony Hüseyin is a wild surprise in the way he engages his audience and reveals music as a simple means to move beyond barriers.

I’m now running out of space to recount all the performances that made the Abramovic nights in Amsterdam unique. Yet, one last thing: go see it!     Silvia Zanni    2nd November 2022