I always find myself defending performance art. Maybe it is because of its newer qualities as an art form or the genuine bewilderment most people think towards it. Having seen the show of Marina Abramovic at the Royal Academy, there are no prisoners for any viewpoint...

Undoubtedly the most famous performance artist today, her career spans decades, and its effect is marked upon the world. Pushing her body through mental and physical anguish, most of the show is video and photographic evidence of her live work. We see her many pieces over the years, The Artist is Present one of her more famous, recent offerings. The themes of mediation and nothingness haunt the air, her previous lover and collaborator Ulay, being a huge staying power at the time. Many vivid, brutal images ruminate their shouting in each other's faces, the unbearable suspense of their bow and arrow play or even the stitching up of his mouth, with Marina speaking for him. The main space featuring the mass of cascading screens is like leaving a trench during a furious battle.

Security in the gallery is on high alert, hurriedly telling patrons no photos for the rooms with living, nude artists recreating Marina's past work. Imponderabilia sees one male and female artist block the threshold to the rest of the exhibit like sphinxes. I mustered up the courage and did it twice throughout my time here. For a brief moment, it is stiffenling intimate, which was of course the intent originally in Bologna. Nausea video work sees her clean what I assume is a real skeleton at Oxford Uni, a century of grime washing away. The name of the piece? Washing the Mirror. There is so much more I could say, we even see ceramics, chalk wall rubbings (from the Great Wall of China) and drawings too. Later photos work shows her face in varying states of emotion and mood. Maybe not as compelling but still effective.

In a talk to the press on the launch, Marina is recovering from health issues, though she is still going ahead with work with the English National Opera and the Southbank Centre. Her bluntness saw her question why Tracy Emin was not the first woman artist to get the billing at the RA and made it clear to all that her work is "not feminist...it has no gender". I take away from her remark that physical pain is easy, whilst emotional pain is hard.

I will be back to see more. I'm reeling from it all...quite remarkable.

It opens on 23 Sept, it runs till 1 Jan 2024

Review: James Ellis Image: Marina Abramovic