SXSW Film Review: The Space in Between: Marina Abramovic and Brazil

Performance artist explores South America

The mythology around Marina Abramović is complex enough that thousands of people will watch her sit around for hours. Her medium-blurring performances antagonistically beg the question: What constitutes art? New documentary, The Space in Between, suggests that art is watching someone diarrhea and vomit uncontrollably while nude.

Abramović’s work arises from extreme vulnerability, and director Marco Del Fiol traces the methods by which she turns exposure into a São Paulo installation. His approach is part Herzog-ian narrative, part art piece; the film apes his subject’s own styles.

Divorced and broken-hearted, Abramović goes searching for arcane medicines in Brazil, questioning locals like faith healer John of God, and the late 110-year-old Mae Filhinha. From time to time, Abramović narrates her picaresque experiences with amazement, though often with sadness pushing down on her shoulders.

Ruminative and filled with stunning widescreen landscapes, the film stands several aesthetic rungs above HBO’s 2012 doc, The Artist Is Present. If Del Fiol focuses too heavily on Abramović – cutting through mystical ceremonies to watch her expound on garlic – he’s hardly blameworthy. The artist’s presence is a gift, and nonfiction aficionados will be as pleased as her fans with the chance to witness it.

The Space in Between: Marina Abramović and Brazil

Documentary Feature Competition, World Premiere
Saturday, March 12, 3:45pm, Stateside
Friday, March 18, 7:30pm, Stateside

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