Photo via Microsoft. Marina Abramovic wearing the HoloLens 2 headset.

On April 10th 2020, Microsoft released an advertising campaign featuring controversial performance artist Marina Abramovic. In a surprise turn of events, the 2-minute ad had amassed more than 24,000 “unlikes” on YouTube in a matter of days, and was subsequently deleted by the Microsoft company.

The video is said to have featured Abramovic wearing the same red dress she wore for her now infamous MoMa performance act from 2012 titled “The Artist is Present.” According to ArtNews, “the video was an advertisement for the HoloLens 2, a headset that allows users to see digital imagery with the outside world still in their view. In the video, which is now deleted from YouTube, the artist discusses her new mixed reality work, “The Life,” and tells viewers, ‘I believe that art of the future is art without objects. This is just pure transmission of energy between the viewer and the artist. To me, mixed reality is this answer’.”

The 24,000 “dislikes” are attributed to right-wing supporters of Infowars, a blog dressing conspiracy theories as news. The owner of Infowars, Alex Jones, was involved in another defamation case in early 2019 on associated with the Sandy Hook school shootings. He was ordered by a judge to pay 100,000 dollars.

The satanic allegations stem from the Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails in 2016. The emails obtained by Wikileaks show how John Pedesta’s (Clinton’s campaign chairmain) brother, an avid art collector, is invited to a private performance showcasing Abramovic’s 1997’s work “Spirit Cooking.” In this series, she used pig’s blood as paint and a recipe book instructed readers to commit violent acts. This led the artist to clarify to ArtNews in 2016 that the performance was a normal dinner and deemed the allegations “ridiculous” saying, “Anybody who wants can read my memoirs and find out that [my work] is far away from Satanism.”

Microsoft has not commented on the matter, but a link on their website dedicated to Abramovic’s art now redirects to a website for the tech company’s arts-related initiatives.

A screenshot of the now deleted YouTube video. Courtesy of Reddit.

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