"We’ll be seeing her in court," says Radamas Brzginkaka, director of Elite Cultural Outreach for Adidas. He’s referring, of course, to performance art mascot Marina Abramovic, recently commissioned by the shoe brand to develop a "short film meant to convey the exuberant spirit of the World Cup and its happy, global fan base," according to a project brief. "We gave Marina essentially a blank check, because we trusted her," explains Brzginkaka. "She disappears with half a million dollars and a case of shoes, and the next thing we know she’s launched some Heaven’s Gate shit up in the woods, and all we’ve got is a black-and-white trailer that’s about as rousing as Wittgenstein read by Stephen Hawking."
The latest Abramovic corporate partnership snafu should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who has followed previous collaborations with brands like VitaCoco, Burt’s Bees, and Kimono ‘Barely There’ Condoms. In all cases, Abramovic submitted identical footage of faceless, lab coat-wearing acolytes performing mundane, time-consuming activities, like tilling a field using only their tongues, or slowly removing all of the blackened gum residue from every sidewalk in Bangor, Maine. Connections to the sponsoring company were tenuous at best. VitaCoco was later besieged by a slew of lawsuits from former Abramovic cult members, many of whom had been instructed by the performance star to self-tattoo the brand’s slogan (“It’s Like Sticking A Straw In A Coconut”) above their navels. An Abramovician commercial spot for Red Lobster, never aired, consisted of a 47-minute static shot of the artist slapping herself in the face with a mop doused in scampi sauce. Applebee’s $3.2 million payment to Abramovic netted them something even less substantial: An envelope, delivered by an albino courier, purported to contain “the residue of the artist’s exhaustion and despair.”