About the Artwork

The Tree is a sound work that artificially amplifies a recording of birdsong through speakers located in an actual tree. It was first presented outside the SKC Cultural Centre in Belgrade, previously a social club for the secret police, which Abramović and her fellow students repurposed after calling for official acknowledgment of their artistic activities, demanding that: “…cultural and creative facilities are open to all”. Although Josip ‘Tito’ Broz, leader of the Yugoslav Communists, responded and relented to the student protests of 1968, The Tree may also be seen as a critical reflection on his hectoring public pronouncements, with the recording’s insistent, distorted repetition perhaps showing Abramović’s disillusionment with her parents’ close ties with the government. As the artist herself has said: “I think it comes from my childhood. My mother always used to give me sets of instructions for what I should achieve every day – to learn a certain number of French words, for example, or what I should eat, what kind of books I should read, what time I was supposed to be home. That time of my life was based in a frame of discipline.” In reference to both White Space and The Tree, curator Germano Celant noted that, “At the time they certainly might have been considered as being more of a conceptual nature … [but] the early works seem to express the existential separation of someone confined or blockaded in a circumscribed, closed country.”
This new configuration of the work, its second iteration since 1972, utilises hidden speakers in the vicinity of a tree, rather than the more literal first iteration of a tape recorder balanced in the branches.

This piece is available to listen to between 8am-10pm

Year: 1972

Sound environment © Marina Abramovic; Courtesy Lisson Photographer; Ken Adlard




Variable size

Artist Biography

Marina Abramović

Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramović has pioneered performance as a visual art form. She created some of the most important early works in this practice, including Rhythm 0 (1974), in which she offered herself as an object of experimentation for the audience, as well as Rhythm 5 (1974), where she lay in the centre of a burning five-point star to the point of losing consciousness. These performances married concept with physicality, endurance with empathy, complicity with loss of control, passivity with danger. They pushed the boundaries of self-discovery, both of herself and her audience. They also marked her first engagements with time, stillness, energy, pain, and the resulting heightened consciousness generated by long durational performance. The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring her physical and mental limits in works that ritualise the simple actions of everyday life, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. From 1975-88, Abramović and the German artist Ulay performed together, dealing with relations of duality. She returned to solo performances in 1989 and for The Artist Is Present (2010) she sat motionless for at least eight hours per day over three months, engaged in silent eye-contact with hundreds of strangers one by one. Marina Abramović was one of the first performance artists to become formally accepted by the institutional museum world with major solo shows taking place throughout Europe and the US over a period of more than 25 years. These include the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1985); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (1990); Neue National Galerie, Berlin, Germany (1993), and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK (1995). She has also participated in many large-scale international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (1976 and 1997) and Documenta VI, VII and IX, Kassel, Germany (1977, 1982 and 1992). Recent performances include Seven Easy Pieces at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA in 2005. In 2010, the Museum of Modern Art, New York held the major retrospective, ‘The Artist Is Present.’ Her exhibition 'The Cleaner' recently toured Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden and Louisiana, Denmark in 2017. Currently showing at Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany to be followed at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy late 2018 to 2019. Marina Abramović is establishing the MAI (Marina Abramović Institute) to support the future exploration and promotion of performance art.