If there’s anyone you don’t want to piss off, it’s a performance artist who has let people cut her flesh for her work and spent over a year staring down thousands of people, one by one. And yet, Jay Z has managed to do just that—albeit by accident.
In a recent interview in Spike magazine, Marina Abramović—whose reputation is still sky-high after her celebrated The Artist Is Present series—claimed Jay Z, “just completely used me” during their supposed collaboration on the rapper’s video “Picasso Baby.”
In it, she suggested that she come to an agreement with Jay Z. She would help him execute her vision of a performance piece for the video and he would help her finance and develop the Marina Abramović Institute—an artist's "incubator" complete with performance-art courses in upstate New York. "Okay, you can help me," she claims she said, "because I really need help to build this thing." Clearly, she felt that she was coopting Jay's resources to both fund her arts utopia and get her vision out there. Instead, she feels she got played. "Then he just completely used me," she said. "And that wasn’t fair.”
Abramović said not only did Jay not support the Institute—a duty that ultimately fell to Lady Gaga—but also came to realize that what should have been a meeting of the minds was, “only a one-way transaction.” She further stated, “I will never do it again, that I can say. Never. I was really naive in this kind of world. It was really new to me, and I had no idea that this would happen. It’s so cruel, it’s incredible.”
It's disappointing, but not surprising. While Jay is talented and ultimately decent, he can also be a ruthless businessman. For him, “Picasso Baby”—while an interesting project— was probably just a platorm for the sale his music and image in which Abramović, her work, and her institute were a prop in the same way that any guest star or video vixen would be in any other rap video. With Abramović as uncomprosing as she is, her lack of control over the final product, lack of support for her project, and the media reaction must be a bit of a nightmare for her.
Word to the wise, Marina: Whenever you’re working with any player in mainstream media, you’ve got to insist on final cut and money up front. “Collabs” aren't always a two-way street. (The Guardian)