Artist tests lim­its of mind, body

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES -

Famed Ser­bian per­for­mance artist Ma­rina Abramovic takes a long, strange trip across Brazil in search of spir­i­tual and phys­i­cal heal­ing and cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion in the in­trigu­ing, well­shot doc­u­men­tary “The Space in Be­tween: Ma­rina Abramovic and Brazil.”

The movie, filmed from in 2012-13, finds Abramovic fac­ing an eclec­tic, es­o­teric string of sa­cred rit­u­als, nat­u­ral cu­ra­tive tech­niques and cathar­tic im­mer­sions with her trade­mark open­ness, cu­rios­ity and au­dac­ity.

As in her art, Abramovic freely tests the lim­its of her oft-ex­posed body. She also pro­vides earnest, at times amus­ing, voice-over to ac­com­pany her eye-open­ing en­coun­ters. (Abramovic cowrote with Fabi­ana Wer­nick Barcin­ski and di­rec­tor Marco Del Fiol.)

Among the many vivid folks she meets: João Teix­eira de Faria (a.k.a. “John of God”), a “psy­chic sur­geon” whose blunt med­i­cal pro­ce­dures can be tough to watch; a chatty near-110year-old; a long­time mid­wife and plant healer; an ebul­lient chef; and shamans, sages and mu­si­cians.

Abramovic also ex­per­i­ments with herb and crys­tal ther­a­pies as well as the in­dige­nous psy­che­delic drug Ayahuasca, the tak­ing of which re­sults in what she calls “prob­a­bly the worst ex­pe­ri­ence of my life.” She gamely tries it again later to bet­ter ef­fect.

More spe­cific sense of time and route (a map, any­one?) and a bit of even ba­sic sci­en­tific scru­tiny would have im­proved this oth­er­wise com­pelling and provoca­tive jour­ney. — Gary Gold­stein “The Space in Be­tween: Ma­rina Abramovic and Brazil.” Not rated. In English and Por­tuguese with English sub­ti­tles. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 28 min­utes. Play­ing: Down­town In­de­pen­dent, Los An­ge­les; also on VOD.

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