Welcome to Florence: we are in the city of art for excellence, and not only the medieval, the renaissance or the baroque one that you are accustomed to know, but also the contemporary, since, in this period, our city hosts the exhibition of Marina Abramović.

The artist of Serbian origin and world-famous, is certainly one of the most famous and controversial of recent years and is indeed a source of great pride, having her as a guest from last 21st September, until 20th January 2019, with a retrospective entitled “The Cleaner” in one of the most prestigious spaces of our city, Palazzo Strozzi.

Drawings, videos, photos, installations, his “live” performances, this exhibition – strongly desired by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi – arrives after those of Ai Weiwei and Bill Viola (which I presented at the time, ed) just to consecrate this space as one of the most important centers for contemporary art, but unlike its predecessors, Marina is the first woman to whom this space is dedicated: “I am honored to be the first, but I hope that after me many more artists, Italian and international, will follow”, stated Marina Abramović during the press conference.

Born in Belgrade in 1946, it is here that she starts out as a figurative and then abstract painter. Marina Abramovic, for years has revolutionized the concept of art, with her installations and her live performances in which it tests her body. With this “Florentine” exhibition, the artist wants to offer a sort of journey through more than 100 works, among the best known and representative of the 40 years of her career, including the most famous performances, put into practice by some actors, specially trained for this exhibition.

“The Cleaner” is a great retrospective that traces the main stages of the Serbian artist’s career, who in 1975 met Ulay, a German artist who has also been in love with for years. The exhibition opens in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi, with the Citroën van where the two have lived most of their story, which is also a significant symbol of their art of those years. It was always with Ulay that Marina conceived a couple performance, “Imponderabilia” (1977), where the public was “forced” to go through their naked bodies as if they were the door knockers, but also “The Lovers” (1988) with which they mark the end of their story when they met at the center of the Great Wall of China to break up.

As often happened in her career, personal events, as well as those of the Balkans, have always left their mark in her art: in fact, in 1997 Marina won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale with the opera “Balkan Baroque”, dramatically inspired by the war in Bosnia. But perhaps her most representative work, much to do as a manifesto of her art, was “The Artist is Present” in 2010: when at the MOMA in New York, world temple of contemporary art (I’m sure you have already heard) she spent more than 700 hours in 3 months, remaining motionless, sitting staring, eyes in the eye, 1.675 perfect unknown museum visitors, as a clear intent to reach the public through energetic and spiritual communication. As anticipated before, inside the Palazzo Strozzi Exhibition, some of her historical performances – five to be exact – will be reproduced by perfomer at certain pre-established times.

But any detail I could reveal here, would never compare to the emotions you’ll experience by choosing to immerse yourself totally in the art of Marina Abramović in the historic walls of Palazzo Strozzi, maybe in your next stay in Florence.