Back in 2013, Jay Z performed his track “Picasso Baby” for six hours straight at the Pace Gallery in New York City. With the rapper standing on a center platform and a bench in front of him, he delivered the song to a number of celebrities and artists, cutting together the clips for the official music video. Jay was directly inspired by Marina Abramovic, who two years prior had revisited her 1977 “Relation” piece as “The Artist is Present” at the MoMA. He even asked Abramovic to come out and appear in the video. Now, the artist says she feels “completely used” by Jay Z.
“I am very pissed by this,” she told Spike Art Magazine when questioned about the video shoot, “since he adapted my work only under one condition: that he would help my institute. Which he didn’t.”
At the time, Abramovic was in the process of launching the Marina Abramovic Institute, a cause which Jay had reportedly promised to donate to in addition to partaking in a “long-durational collaboration.” “The day before, he came to my office and I gave him an entire power point presentation and said: okay, you can help me, because I really need help to build this thing,” Abramovic said in the new interview. “Then he just completely used me. And that wasn’t fair. This is very different from Lady Gaga, for example, who has done great work for me. Just by having 45 million followers, she brought all these young kids into my public.”
Update – Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.: Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, who produced the “Picasso Baby” video, has disputed Abramovic’s accusations, and says he has a receipt to prove it. Rohatyn provided Artnews with a receipt for a “substantial donation” Jay Z made to the Marina Abramovic Institute.
Update – Wednesday, 7:30 p.m: The Marina Abramovic has issued an official apology to Jay Z on behalf of Abramovic. “Marina Abramovic was not informed of Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter’s donation from two years ago when she recently did an interview with Spike Magazine in Brazil,” reads a statement which was sent out by the Marina Abramovic Institute. “We are sincerely sorry to both Marina Abramović and Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter for this, and since then we have taken to appropriate actions to reconcile this matter.”
She added that while she doesn’t “look at things” in terms of regret, the “unfair” experience has turned her off to any similar collaboration in the future. “And in the end it was only a one-way transaction. 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. I will stay away from it for sure.”
Below, watch the video that Jay Z made off of Abramovic’s idea.