Man About Town: Abramovic's young fans, and the chefs to the world's most powerful palates


Conversation with Marina Abramovic provides constant interesting soundbites. "Every single day," she says, "is a miracle." Her new show sees her in the studio six days a week, which is “hell, but it’s wonderful too”, but it’s better to be out as "the studio’s a trap", she claims to learn nothing "from Western culture" and "I learn from life".

The artist is in the UK to for her 512 hours show at the Serpentine Gallery, a durational show which sees her interact with the audience for eight hours a day, six days a week.  Abramovic been a fixture on the art scene since the 1970s, but has gained something of a celebrity status and a new audience since teaching Lady Gaga her “technique”.

“I just get [a] young audience through her and that was really great,” Abramovic told me. “It started when I was performing in MoMA (in New York). Lady Gaga (was there) and because of Twitter and Tumblr, all the young kids came to MoMA to see her. Lady Gaga left, and they all stayed and they became my audience and I’m very grateful to this all my life because every time I do anything, even a lecture, 80 per cent is a super young audience, this is to me my important audience.”

There was a slightly different audience when I met her at the Illy coffee shop on Regent Street. On the face of it, it could be seen as an unusual combination of artist and big brand, but Abramovic felt comfortable with the combination.

“Illy has been a really great sponsor of art, and also my institute, so if they need my support I do it. I also made a commercial for Adidas recently because I got the money from them that I can put in the institute. In the old days if you see who was sponsoring art it was the popes, and aristocracy and the kings and now it’s industry, and this is reality.”


Art met drinks a couple of days later as I headed for a dinner in the basement of venerable wine merchants Berry Brother’s & Rudd. The occasion was the launch of Glenmorangie Pride 1978, an extraordinary whisky that spent 34 years in the making (much of it in top claret casks), with an extraordinary price tag: £3,400.

Flanagan at the annual gathering of the Le Club des Chefs Flanagan at the annual gathering of the Le Club des Chefs Dr Bill Lumsden, the distiller, introduced the brilliant Idris Khan, an artist who creates mesmerising works, which like Scotch come together over time. Khan had created both a special work for the release, and an individual piece of art with each bottle sold. It will, of course, be seen as an impossible luxury for most, but after quizzing Khan about the going rate of his work, I worked out that buying one of the bottles, with the free artwork, could – after a couple of drinks - be seen as a bargain.

If you can afford it in the first place that is…

Another culinary highlight recently was a trip to the annual gathering of the Le Club des Chefs. It’s one of the most exclusive of clubs, as its members are those who cook for heads of state. This year after some charitable activities they gathered at Hakkasan restaurant in central London for a feast of Chinese food. I met a number of them including from Mark Flanagan, who cooks for the Queen, to Guillaume Gomez, the head chef at for the French President at the Elysee Palace, to Ferrier Richardson, a Scot who cooks for the family of the President of Gabon. Sadly for those of us hoping for tales of royal or presidential excess, it seems that were all obviously chosen for their discretion as much as their cooking talents.

And none of them confirmed it, but I like to think that while their cooks were enjoying themselves in the UK, the various kings, queens and presidents were heating-up microwave meals and wondering where the plates were kept.

Luke Blackall is a video journalist for London Live

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits