Right-Wing Media Mistakes Marina Abramović Dinner Party for Satanic Ritual

'Spirit Cooking' actually just involved learning to make soup.

Marina Abramovic in Sao Paulo, Brazil on April 8, 2015. Courtesy of NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images.

A dinner party at Marina Abramović’s TriBeCa apartment caused a satanic panic over the weekend, after a leaked email forwarded from the artist to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta made the rounds on a number of conservative news sites.

Last June, the artist sent an email invitation to John’s brother Tony Podesta, a lobbyist and long-time collector of Abramović’s work, to a gathering in honor of significant donors to a kickstarter campaign.

Those who pledged over $10,000 in support of the Marina Abramović Institute were invited to “Spirit Cooking with Marina Abramović,” an event whose description advertised “A dinner night with Marina during which she will teach you and other backers at this level how to cook a series of traditional soups, which you will all enjoy together. The night will end with the making of a golden ball, a recipe given to Marina in a Tibetan monastery.”

“Spirit Cooking,” Abramović told Artnews on Friday, was just a “funny name” for a “normal dinner” with about 10 guests, including Tony Podesta. His Clinton-affiliated brother, however, did not make an appearance—and neither did blood, semen, nor breast milk as suggested by alt-right conspiracy theorists.

The title, which right-wing media has read as a “sex cult” or a “bizarre occult ritual,” refers to a series of performances from the 1990s, in which Abramović used pig’s blood to write phrases like “Fresh morning urine sprinkle over nightmare dreams,” or “with a sharp knife cut deeply into the middle finger of your left hand eat the pain,” on the walls of museums. In 1996, she also created an “aphrodisiac cookbook” of the same name.

A YouTube video of the performance taking place at the Zerynthia Associazione per L’arte Contemporanea in Paliano, Italy was hit with a slew of confused commenters over the weekend. Conspiracy theorist and “media analyst” Mark Dice wrote, “illuminati psychos. Podesta and Hillary, what else do you expect?”

Defending herself, Abramović maintains the truth about her work, which deals more with an aesthetically-provocative spirituality than with satan-worshipping cults, can be found in her memoirs.

“I’m outraged, because this is taken completely out of my context,” she said. “Anybody who wants can read my memoirs and find out that [my work] is far away from Satanism.”


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