The Far-Right Media Are Circulating Their Most Ludicrous Election Rumor to Date

Conservative media has trumped its own nuttery by reporting that Hillary Clinton and her team are a bunch of “occult magic” practicing Satanists. The rumor, a sign of how ludicrous this election has become, is actually the result of right-wing news sites confusing performance art with sorcery.

It all seems to have started with an email that became public via Wikileaks. Last July, the performance artist Marina Abramović invited Tony Podesta—a major lobbyist, art collector and brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta—to dine at her home. She wrote:

Dear Tony,

I am so looking forward to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place. Do you think you will be able to let me know if your brother is joining?

All my love, Marina

Tony forwarded the email to his brother John, with a note asking if he’d be available to come to the dinner. For the record, Spirit Cooking is the title of one of Abramović’s collections from the 1990s. A video of her creating a related installation is also online, and any remotely sane person can see it depicts an artist setting up her work for exhibition. 


Unfortunately, there is nothing conservative propagandists love so much as imagined boogeyman, so instead of Googling Abramović and finding out she’s one of the world’s most famous artists, they instead decided to go with the absurd story that she’s a Satanist. And through this demented thinking, by extension so are the Podestas, as well as Clinton.

Alex Jones, who has previously accused Clinton of being a literal demon, dedicated not one but two factually incorrect and poorly researched articles to the rumor. The Drudge Report actually made the fake news its main story of the day. Sean Hannity, fresh off of having to apologize for lies he helped spread about Michelle Obama, posted a tweet about the story. The Daily Beast notes that earlier today, #SpiritCooking was the second-highest-rated trending topic on Twitter in the U.S.


Abramović (who again, is an art world icon and has been working since the 1970s) spoke to ArtNews about the whole dumb affair.

“I’m outraged, because this is taken completely out of my context,” Abramović told the outlet, noting that Tony Podesta has been a patron of her art going back to the 1990s. “It was just a normal dinner. It was actually just a normal menu, which I call spirit cooking. There was no blood, no anything else. We just call things funny names, that’s all.”

She added, “Anybody who wants can read my memoirs and find out that [my work] is far away from Satanism. My work is really more about spirituality and not anything else.”

Abramović staged her performance piece, The Artist Is Present, at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 2010. The piece, which the New York Times cites as “the biggest performance exhibition that MoMA has mounted” attracted tens of thousands to the museum for the opportunity to participate in the work, which consisted of Abramović sitting across the table from individual visitors. A major documentary by the same name was released in 2012. Abramović, along with a bunch of other stars, was a central figure in Jay-Z’s much circulated video for the single “Picasso Baby.”

All of this would have been easily discoverable had anyone in the right-wing media been the least bit interested in checking Abramović’s credentials.

“I mean, this world is really turning to hell. I am completely amazed, something is taken out of context for the purpose of winning,” Abramović told ArtNews. “We are living in such a strange world.”


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