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High costs end Abramovic’s MAI plans in Hudson

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File photoAfter speaking in Hudson in 2012, Marina Abramovic stood by the architect's model of the planned MAI (Marina Abramovic Institute) at‚Äã the former Community Tennis Court building at Seventh and Columbia streets and described some of the proposed institute's features.
October 6, 2017 - 09:58 pm Updated: October 6, 2017 - 10:00 pm

LONDON — Famed performance artist Marina Abramovic will not be opening her planned MAI (Marina Abramovic Institute) in Hudson.

She announced the $31 million needed to create MAI, an interdisciplinary performance and education center, in the abandoned theater at 620 Columbia St. in Hudson, was cost-prohibitive as she spoke with Hans Ulrich Obrist at a talk hosted by Fondation Beyeler and UBS Art at Serpentine Galleries in London on Wednesday.

Abramovic paid for the theater, six months of MAI office operations and the design concept under the direction of world-renowned architects Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

“I understood that I would have to set up a legacy and that would be MAI, the Marina Abramovic Institute,” she said Wednesday in London. “I bought a building in Hudson, upstate (New York). I was very enthusiastic. I bought it on my birthday and then I asked Rem Koolhaas, ‘OK, can you do something about it’ and we made a big, big campaign with Kickstarter.”

Abramovic turned to Kickstarter in an effort to have the public join her in funding phase one of MAI. She aimed to create a global community of collaborators, and wanted project supporters to conceptually be able to contribute to it financially.

The campaign raised more than $500,000 in one month, but below the $31 million needed to build the institute.

“In one month, we raised $652,000 to give to Rem Koolhaas to make the plans,” she said. “So, he made the plans and the plans were absolutely beautiful...but when then he told how much to make it and he said, ‘Oh, this will cost $31 million,’ I just lost my breath.”

Raising the money to renovate the former Community Tennis Court building at Seventh and Columbia streets was out of reach, she added.

“I mean I, as a performance artist, couldn’t ever raise $31 million,” Abramovic said. “So, this institute stays as just a dream and as a kind of a conceptual idea.”

After finding out about the steep renovation costs to create the institute in Hudson, Abramovic said she realized she did not necessarily want MAI to be in one place.

“Why should I just not make an immaterial institute? I don’t need the building,” she said. “So, (the) building is still there and I think the pigeons live there, but one day, as real estate, maybe we will sell it. But actually (the) institute will become everywhere so...don’t come to use, we come to you and then we become global and everywhere institutes invite us.”

She added by bringing her institute to others around the world, MAI will not incur the costs of renovations and running an institute in Hudson.

The future of her building in Hudson is unclear.

“What about if I don’t build the institute but just sell it,” she said to the London audience. “You know, Hudson is progressing. It’s the biggest building in Hudson, it’s 24,000 square feet, it’s built in 1936, it’s all concrete. Any bidding?”

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