If you don’t know who Marina Abramovic is, you may have come across some of her work recently when a viral video featured one of her live performance art pieces from 2010, where she shared one minute of silence in the presence of complete strangers – only to have a former lover show up.
It was a moving piece of video, and it turned on a segment of people to her work who would have otherwise never heard of her.
Her upcoming memoir was highly anticipated, but thanks to a single Instagram post, the book is generating a buzz that Abramovic probably isn’t too happy about.
New York-based writer and art critic Rachel Wetzler posted a photo from a page of what she claims is Abramovic’s unreleased memoir, showing a passage about Abramovic’s time in Australia’s Northern Territory in the late ’70s – a passage that many view to be racist.
The passage reads:
Aborigines are not just the oldest race in Australia; they are the oldest race on the planet. They look like dinosaurs. They are really strange and different, and they should be treated as living treasures. Yet, they are not.
But at the same time, when you first meet them, you have to put effort into it. For one thing, to Western eyes they look terrible. Their faces are like no other faces on earth; they have big torsos (just one bad result of their encounter with Western [civilization] is a high-sugar diet that bloats their bodies) and sticklike legs.
Although Abramovic’s sentiment seems intended as empathetic, she’s describing indigenous people as though they’re animal species that are being observed in a zoo. Some are wondering how this characterization made it past the book’s editors.
@davidFalexander fucking Marina Abramovic feeling like she can say whatever she wants without educating herself first. No accountability
— Shannon Power (@shannonjpower) August 16, 2016
The memoir’s publisher, Penguin hasn’t released an official statement on the matter as of yet. The release date is set for October in the U.S.
Update: The Instagram post featuring the alleged passage from Abramovic’s memoir has been deleted. We’ve reached out to Rachel Wetzler for comment and will update this article accordingly.