Update 8/17: The Guardian confirms that Abramovic's publisher, Penguin Random House subsidiary Crown Archetype , will remove the passage from the final copy of the book.


Performance artist Marina Abramović has come under fire for a passage from her new memoir Walk Through Walls, where she calls Aboriginal people "terrible"-looking "dinosaurs."

Reminiscing on a 1979 trip to Australia, she takes her first meeting with an Aboriginal tribe as an opportunity to engage in condescending pseudo-anthropological and blatantly racist commentary -- all whilst reaffirming how toxic a focus on Eurocentric beauty standards can be.

"Aborigines are not just the oldest race in Australia; they are the oldest race on the planet," Abramović wrote. "They look like dinosaurs. They are really strange and different, and they should be treated as living treasures. Yet they are not."

"But at the same time, when you first meet them, you have to put effort into it," she continued. "For one thing, to Western eyes they look terrible. Their faces are like no other faces on earth," adding later that they have "big torsos" and "sticklike legs."

In response to the backlash -- which has since spurred the #theracistispresent tag on Twitter -- Abramović posted an apology to her Facebook page insisting that she has "the greatest respect for Aborigine people, to whom I owe everything."

"The description contained in an early, uncorrected proof of my forthcoming book is taken from my diaries and reflects my initial reaction to these people when I encountered them for the very first time way back in 1979," she said. "It does not represent the understanding and appreciation of Aborigines that I subsequently acquired through immersion in their world and carry in my heart today."

photo by Joe Schildhorn/BFA.com

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