Marina Abramović Leads 7-Minute Silence at Glastonbury Festival

On June 28, the Serbian performance artist urged an audience of thousands to “give unconditional love to each other.”

Jun 29, 2024By Emily Snow, MA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial Studies
marina-abramovic-seven-minute-silence-glatsonbury
Abramović performs Seven Minutes of Collective Silence on June 28. Source: The Guardian.

 

Since the seventies, Marina Abramović has unflinchingly tested the limits of mental and physical endurance, making her one of the most famous performance artists in the world. She undertook her biggest participatory piece yet on June 28, silencing an audience of thousands at the famous Glatsonbury Festival in Somerset, England. “Silence is a powerful tool that allows us to connect with ourselves and each other in ways words cannot,” said Abramović. “At a festival like Glastonbury, where sound and energy are in constant flux, these Seven Minutes of Collective Silence offer a unique opportunity for unity and introspection. It’s about being present together, experiencing the power of silence as one.”

 

Marina Abramović’s Seven Minutes of Collective Silence

Rendering of Glatsonbury 2024. Source: Circa.

 

Marina Abramović‘s headline-grabbing Glatsbonbury appearance was announced just one day in advance. “We are honored to have Marina Abramović bring such a meaningful and profound experience to Glastonbury,” said Emily Eavis, co-organizer of the Glatsonbury Festival. “Her work has always pushed boundaries and inspired deep reflection, and we believe this moment of collective silence will be a memorable and impactful addition to the festival.”

 

At 5:55 P.M. on Friday evening, Abramović took to the festival’s main Pyramid stage, where she invited the thousands-strong audience to participate in Seven Minutes of Collective Silence. “In my entire fifty-five years of my career, I was always doing something with energy,” explained the artist. “I don’t have any other better place than here right now than to make an intervention of the energy itself.” Abramović urged audience members to place their hands on their neighbors, close their eyes, and make no noise. Then, Eavis sounded a gong to begin the seven-minute silent performance.

 

A “Public Intervention” for Peace

Abramović on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. Source: Reuters.

 

Seven Minutes of Collective Silence was conceived as a “public intervention” to reflect on conflict and peace. Before the festival crowd fell silent, Abramović said, “There are wars, hunger, protest, killing, violence. But what is happening if we look at the big picture? Violence brings more violence, killing brings more killing, anger brings more anger, demonstration brings more demonstration. Here, we try to do something different: how to be in the present, here and now, and how we can actually all together give unconditional love to each other.”

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter

 

Fittingly, the official theme of this year’s Glatsonbury is “peace.” For her performance, Abramović donned a custom garment in the shape of a CND peace symbol, which was designed by former head Burberry designer Riccardo Tisci. CND, or the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, has been a longtime supporter of Glatsonbury, which is among the largest and most famous performing arts festivals in the world.

 

“I Am Terrified,” Said Abramović Before Performance

The artist Marina Abramović, photographed by Peter Rigaud. Source: Sotheby’s/Laif/Camera Press London.

 

The day before the performance, Marina Abramović acknowledged the risk of failing to impose silence on a frenetic festival audience. In an interview with The Guardian, Abramović said, “I am terrified. I don’t know any visual artists who have done something like this in front of 175,000 to 200,000 people. The largest audience I ever had was 6,000 people in a stadium and I was thinking ‘wow’, but this is really beyond anything I’ve done.” She added that she planned to visit Stonehenge on her way to the festival to “get all the energy [she] can” before the performance. Abramović also looked forward to discovering new music and performance art at Glatsonbury: “I’ll be like a child with open eyes, looking at these amazing new groups that I don’t know anything about.”

Author Image

By Emily SnowMA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial StudiesEmily Snow is a contributing writer and art historian based in Amsterdam. She earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and loves knitting, her calico cat, and everything Victorian.