Marina Abramović Responds to Questions Over Funds for Scrapped OMA-Designed Institute

After the institute was cancelled, the whereabouts of $2.2 million raised for the project was questioned.
Marina Abramović Institute OMA

Marina Abramović with the design for her scrapped OMA-designed institute in upstate New York. Courtesy OMA

Artist Marina Abramović has responded to allegations that her nonprofit, the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI), misused funds meant to help build a performing arts center in upstate New York.

Initial designs for the 33,000-square-foot center, a former theater in Hudson, New York, to be converted by OMA, were revealed in 2013. A Kickstarter campaign, launched the same year, netted over $660,000. In total, MAI raised $2.2 million for the project over four years, $1.1 million of which the artist now says came from her. Last month Abramović announced she was cancelling the project after estimated costs soared to $31 million from an original price tag of approximately $20 million.

On Sunday, the New York Post ran a front-page exposé—called “The Art of the ‘Steal'”—questioning what came of the the Kickstarter funds and the remainder of the $2.2 million. According to the article, campaign backers had yet to receive the rewards promised to them for funding the project, a signed DVD of a performance piece.

Today, MAI released a statement—titled “The Art of Truth”—countering the allegations and unveiling a breakdown of its funding.

The breakdown includes the $655,167.10 paid to OMA for the design fee, which the artist says was funded mostly through the Kickstarter campaign.

“I reject the New York Post’s allegations of theft,” Abramović wrote in her statement. “The Kickstarter funds were directed for the purpose intended. Over the last four years, the original vision of the Institute evolved and I am proud of this work.”

See renderings of the proposed project and read Abramović’s statement in its entirety below.


THE ART OF TRUTH

On November 12, 2017 the New York Post published a front page story about me in the Sunday edition with the headline “The Art of the Steal.”  Normally I wouldn’t care what was written in a tabloid newspaper, but the allegations are so false, libelous and in every way untrue that I must address them.  

The article claims that I raised 2.2 million dollars for my institute since 2011 which is not true.  In fact the majority of those funds were direct contributions of my own money which I earned as an artist. I contributed over 1.1 million dollars in cash donations to the institute on top of what I spent to buy the building which I donated to MAI in 2013. 

The Kickstarter campaign accounts for $661,452. After Kickstarter’s administrative fee, the amount we received from the campaign was $596,667.

The Kickstarter was created to fund schematic designs by OMA New York for the building in Hudson, NY. The bill we received from the firm for this specific design work was $655,167.10. We used the Kickstarter funds to pay OMA New York’s design fee.

The New York Post article also claims that we did not reward all of our Kickstarter backers. As reported by ArtNet on November 7, 2017, the only people that did not receive their rewards are the ones that did not respond to our requests for information. We welcome those backers that did not receive what they deserved to contact the institute directly via Kickstarter or on our website.

When we received the proposal from OMA New York, we were overwhelmed by the originality and beauty of the project. However, they informed us that the project cost would exceed 31 million dollars. We looked for a cost effective solution together with OMA New York and a consultant but the building had many issues to make it work within a manageable budget. The board of MAI decided to cancel the building project and to focus our efforts on bringing our projects to people around the world.

To date, MAI has partnered with many institutions and artists internationally. We have presented 13 art experiences in 12 countries the majority of which were free of entrance and open to the public. The events have been attended by over 675,000 people. Most importantly, wherever we go, we strive to foster emerging performance artists and create a platform for their work while also engaging the broader public in participatory exercises from the Abramovic Method.  

I reject the New York Post’s allegations of theft. The Kickstarter funds were directed for the purpose intended. Over the last four years, the original vision of the Institute evolved and I am proud of this work.

Marina Abramović 
 

THE ART OF TRUTH FACTS

CONTRIBUTIONS TO MAI

 

MARINA’S DONATIONS

Total Cash Donations : $1,176,424 

Purchase and maintenance of building including minor renovations: $1,221,644*

Total: $2,398,068

*Marina Abramovic donated the building to MAI in 2013

 

KICKSTARTER CONTRIBUTIONS for Design work from OMA New York

Amount of money from Kickstarter Campaign: $661,452

Amount Received after Kickstarter fee: $596,667

 

WEB DONATIONS

Total: $39,156.83

 

THIRD PARTY DONATIONS

Total: $152,184.67 

 

OMA NEW YORK DONATION:

A portion of the work by OMA New York was donated to MAI

Total: $142,167

 

OMA NEW YORK COSTS

Design Team:                 

OMA (Design Architect): $655,167.10

Other Specialist Consultants: $354,502.67

Other Payments:

Owner’s Rep: $102,392.83

 

MAI PROJECT VISITORS

Terra Communal (2015)

São Paulo, Brazil

250,000 people in 2 months

 

Kaldor Public Art Projects (2015)

Sydney, Australia

32,000 people in 12 days

 

As One: NEON + MAI (2016)

Athens, Greece

51,000 people in 2 months

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