The Arrangement

Z22 Galerie, Berlin, 2021

performance, video and photo documentation

Through The Arrangement, Marina Markovic explores submission and domination in relation to the female body, focusing on the spectrum of free will and coercion. The project presents a multimedia environment in which the body takes center stage, mediating between personal choices and pressure created by the society, the art market, figures and institutions. The artist invites us to pay special attention to the skin, which physically separates us from other bodies, while also allowing for stereotypes and expectations to project on its surface. She invites galleries and institutions to tattoo their logos on her body, further examining the power dynamics between them and herself.


In doing so, Marina brings in many references. Simultaneously an embellishment and a scar, a tattoo leaves a permanent trace on one’s body, descending from its historical purpose to determine one’s identity, be it associated with class and tradition or with imprisonment and slavery. Similarly, the artist questions the marks left by institutions (aptly portrayed by logos), essentially touching on the duality that Tony Bennett posed in The Exhibitionary Complex. It is suggested that the museum, or any institution for that matter, controls a system that does not only entail objects on display, but it also controls the people, the visitors, and the script in which we all take part – not unlike Foucault’s carceral system, as Bennett reminds us. 

The Arrangement is, therefore, a play on words. As an artist, Marina needs to take part in this scripted environment, so her choices are limited, even if pre-defined in an arrangement with other parties. On the other hand, hereby entering the obsessive-compulsive in her body of work, the project anticipates a physical arrangement of elements: body parts, camera views, peep-holes, action plans. Even if it seems like a choose-your-own adventure in which Marina herself is the adventure (the artist cannot predict where the tattoo will end up, for example, as the location is to be decided by a jury), the project is meticulously designed so as to actually not allow for any surprises (the body part options were given by the artist). The Arrangement is what keeps Marina in control. 
The actual being in control is often hidden behind the illusion of it held by others. Just as the power dynamic is constantly shifting, we can’t be sure whether Marina is giving it up, or holding the leash, when she invites art galleries and museums to leave their trace on her skin, the semi-opaque barrier that does a better job at revealing than hiding – when we blush, when we bruise, when we are covered in sweat or eczema, or when we choose to ink it. But it’s precisely the evasive locus of control that makes Marina’s work relevant.
excerpt from the text “The Arrangement” by Natalija Paunic