Self-Centered Marina Abramović Throws Her Own Staff Under Bus in Dispute with Jay Z

Where does the buck stop? Not with Abramović, apparently.

Artwork by Alex Reyes.

We’ve gotten to the bottom of a dispute between a famous performance artist and a famous performing artist, and it’s not looking good for Marina Abramović.

The Internet went wild over the last two days after Abramović accused rapper Jay Z, in an interview in Spike Art Quarterly, of failing to make a promised donation to her eponymous performance art institute, which she’s developing in Hudson, New York. He reportedly agreed to make the donation after adapting her performance “The Artist is Present” into a music video for his 2013 single “Picasso Baby.”

Outlets from Time to BET to Gawker and Rolling Stone reported on the dispute.

Jay Z, however, had kept his receipt for the gift, and his representative even gave artnet News the order number.


Abramović herself has not responded to artnet News’ request for clarification, but now the Marina Abramović Institute has fallen on its sword. In a two-line email sent to the press Wednesday, the administrators say:

Marina Abramovic was not informed of Shawn “JAY Z” Carter’s donation from two years ago when she recently did an interview with Spike Magazine in Brazil. We are sincerely sorry to both Marina Abramovic and Shawn “JAY Z” Carter for this, and since then we have taken to appropriate actions to reconcile this matter.



(Marina Abramovic Institute)

A still from Jay Z's video "Picasso Baby."

A still from Jay Z’s video “Picasso Baby.”

What’s interesting here is that Abramović made a defamatory accusation against one of the world’s most famous people—seemingly without doing her homework—and when her gaffe was exposed, she allowed the institute to take the blame.

Where does the buck stop? Not with Abramović, apparently.

One wonders what “appropriate actions” the institute might take. Will they send an intern daily to brush the dirt off Hova’s shoulder?

Meanwhile, the Internet abounds with explanations and analyses of the feud and the denouement.

Our favorite? Gothamist concludes that this can only be a dispute between two members of the Illuminati:

As everyone knows (or should know) by now, Jay Z is a card-carrying (this is what we in the biz call an “exaggeration”—a real member would never carry a physical card, for the mark of the organization is branded upon one’s heart, and only acknowledged via very complicated hand gestures) member of the one-world authoritarian government known as the Illuminati, the only really real secret society controlling real secret world events (that are real). For the record, Jay Z gave himself away last year when he started chanting “Tom Ford” like an ancient spell.

There are only two options then what this feud is about: an inter-Illuminati grudge—perhaps about seating positions at the next secret Illuminati ice cream social—or a power imbalance between their triangular auras.

A runner-up is the Onion’s AV Club, which dryly observes:

Jay Z has replied in the manner of all great rap beefs: with a statement made through an art dealer, in which a receipt is read aloud. Artnet News reports that Salon 94’s Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, who produced the “Picasso Baby” video, called and read the publication parts of a receipt thanking Jay Z for a donation to Abramovic’s Institute that is “substantial.” Abramovic has now yet to respond to this response. It’s increasingly possible that this entire story is all some new work of performance art.

Similarly, the New York Times called it all “a dispute that veered uncomfortably close to performance art.”

We’ll leave you with this meme, which sums it all up in the “TFW” or “that feeling when” mode.


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