Lady Gaga is a weird animal. Some people already consider her a performance artist, but after participating in the Abramovic Method workshop, Lady Gaga has officially set herself apart from the pop world. We all know her as an embracer of avant-garde fashion, vertiginous shoes, and unconventional stage entrances (remember the eggmobile?), but no matter how much she shocks middle America with her vagaries, Lady Gaga is still considered tame compared to the “grandmother of performance art,” Marina Abramovic. And so, when you put the two together, the world can expect some next-level results.
Gaga is featured, along with the performance artist, in a short, NSFW video documenting the singer’s participation in the Abramovic Method, aptly titled “The Abramovic Method Practiced by Lady Gaga.” The Abramovic Method was designed to help participants develop skills for observing long durational performances (how appropriate) through exercises that increase your awareness of your mental and physical experience in the moment. Apparently, what this translates to is lots of chanting, sitting still, nature, and being nude.
In the video, the pop singer is shown lying down in an all-white outfit, standing in a river wearing a blindfold with horns, going au naturel in the woods, and cradling a giant crystal, all to the soundtrack of monotone, drawn-out chants of “Hey!”
This may sound incomprehensibly bizarre, but there are several reasons why Gaga’s latest antic is actually strategic, savvy, and most likely, completely calculated.
First of all, her first album in two years, ARTPOP, is coming out in November, so now is prime time for her to start promotional efforts and build buzz. And with a name like ARTPOP, what better way to introduce the album than with some legitimate performance art.
Secondly, she’s single-handedly taken the spotlight off Jay Z. Just last month, the rapper staged a performance art piece where he marathon-rapped his single “Picasso Baby” for six hours straight at New York’s Pace Gallery. The performance was a riff on Abramovic’s famous piece “The Artist Is Present,” and Abramovic herself was present at his show. Now, however, Lady Gaga has redirected attention on to herself by collaborating with the famed performance artist. It’s as if she swooped in to take advantage of the buzz surrounding Jay Z’s performance piece while it was still buzzing.
But Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga, and she will never do something just because someone else has and saw success (unless you’re talking about Madonna and chord progressions). In fact, Gaga has first dibs on Abramovic, and perhaps Jay Z was actually emulating her. The Abramovic Method video was actually Gaga’s third time collaborating with the artist after the two teamed up for a Hamptons fundraiser last month and a marathon reading of the sci-fi novel Solaris earlier this month. This latest project solidifies their friendship, and is even mutually beneficial, as it is an effort to promote Abramovic’s Kickstarter campaign for her new Marina Abramovic Institute.
At the end of the day, it could just be considered the singer’s version of a meditative retreat, a shedding of old personas and an introduction to a new and recharged Gaga. The video concludes with Gaga lying on a bed surrounded by crystals and slowly opening her eyes, as if to say the rebirth is complete.