American conservative news sites had a field day this weekend when they mistook a dinner party at the home of Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović for a satanic ceremony.
The source of the commotion was a leaked email forwarded from Abramović to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.
The forwarded email's original recipient was John's brother Tony Podesta, a lobbyist and collector of Abramović's work who had been invited to a dinner party for generous donors to the Marina Abramović Institute.
More specifically the invite, which went out to those who pledged over $10,000 to a kickstarter campaign, was for “Spirit Cooking with Marina Abramović” — a title that sparked rumours of a “sex cult” or “bizarre occult ritual”.
Rather than anything related to Satan-worshipping, the title refers to a series of performances by the artist 1990s which, admittedly, did involve such ingredients as blood and urine. All in the name of performance art, we must again duly point out.
The night's description advertised “A dinner night with Marina during which she will teach you and other backers at this level how to cook a series of traditional soups, which you will all enjoy together. The night will end with the making of a golden ball, a recipe given to Marina in a Tibetan monastery.”
“I'm outraged, because this is taken completely out of my context,” said the artist in response to the scandal. “Anybody who wants can read my memoirs and find out that [my work] is far away from Satanism.”
Who knew soups could cause such a stir.
The email is one of a number leaked from John Podesta's account.