Everything you always wanted to know about the making of a video installation
Ramon Coelho, 2008, 22'12''

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'8 Lessons on Emptiness with a Happy End' is a video installation in which Marina Abramovic addresses the topic of violence as it is portrayed in contemporary media. The five channels of the installation, recorded in Laos, are organized in a long frieze, consisting of one central image flanked by two vertical and two horizontal ones. They alternate between archetypical scenes of warfare, referring to television and video games, and images from nature – a waterfall, an island and a Spirit Tree – which relate to spiritual life in Laos. The warfare scenes, enacted by children and Marina Abramovic herself, encourage compassion and responsibility. The title of the work refers to the traditional Buddhist notion of emptiness – emptying the mind to allow transfomation to a different state, in this case to achieve purification through the viewing process. Ideologically, '8 Lessons on Emptiness with a Happy End' differs from most political-activist contemporary work, which usually has an opposing quality; here, Marina Abramovic calls for compassion, critiques violence and its representation, and offers an opportunity for redemption.

Ramon Coelho, who worked as a video editor for '8 Lessons on Emptiness with a Happy End', has shot a one-hour documentary about the creation process of this work. This film explains the origins of 'Eight Lessons' and shows how Marina Abramovic and her crew have worked in Laos: we see how her team has constructed an archetypical house as a stage for the videos and photographs, how local children enact war scenes together with the artist with the house as a backdrop, and how the crew explore the countryside in search of locations and landscapes with spiritual meaning.
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  • Date: 2008
  • Length: 22'12''
  • Type: Video
  • Participants: Marina Abramovic
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: (experimental) documentary (artwork genre), interview (artwork genre)
  • Keywords: mass media, third world/non-western culture, war, youth