Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked conceptual and performance artist Marina Abramovic to be an “ambassador” for Ukraine and help rebuild schools.
Abramovic, 76, has been a vocal supporter of Zelensky’s since the beginning of the war and a harsh opponent of Russia.
Zelensky also invited her to be a board member of the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial in Ukraine, where she had previously installed an artwork before it was damaged by Russian missile attacks in March 2022.
Abramovic boastfully claims she was the first artist to express support for Ukraine. In a video posted only days after the invasion, Abramovic said, “I have full solidarity with [the Ukrainian people] on this impossible day […] An attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on humanity and has to be stopped.”
The decision raised eyebrows, as Abramovic is perhaps best known by those outside the contemporary art world for being the subject of conspiracy theories related to PizzaGate. Such rumors began to circulate when emails hacked from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta were released by WikiLeaks in 2016. In one of them, Abramovic extended an invitation to John’s brother Tony asking him to come to “the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place.” Tony then forwarded the email to John asking if he could attend.
Internet users began researching into Abramovic, discovering many photographs of her with high-rolling elite celebrities and politicians. In one photo album, Lady Gaga is seen spooning red liquid made from a tub containing a naked mannequin. The set up was apparently an artwork made by Abramovic, who is seen standing beside her. Figures such as Alex Jones cited the pictures in assertions of a far vaster conspiracy of elites engaging in esoteric practices, Satan worship, and child sex trafficking.
Tony Podesta was also the subject of conspiracy speculation among online Trump supporters in 2016 when it was discovered that he had deeply disturbing artworks in his house depicting young children in deathlike trances.
Why Abramovic would be chosen for this role is unclear. Whether the conspiracy theories are true or not, she is a deeply strange person who goes to live in a hut in the woods and worships a giant crystal for weeks at a time. One would imagine that the role of rebuilding the schools of a country would be more suited to someone else, such as an education administrator who has relevant experience.