In a surprising turn of events, the Museum of Contemporary Art has cancelled performance artist Marina Abramović’s retrospective. The exhibition was set to take place in 2016 and would have included unseen work from the artist, as well as Nightsea Crossing, the piece that propelled Abramovic into the public’s eye in the early ‘80s.

The New York-based Serbian artist is about to embark on Marina Abramovic: In Residence, an 11-day residency at Walsh Bay, followed by an exhibition at Hobart’s MONA, lasting four months.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the projects are said to be the reason for the MCA’s cancellation. In a statement, the museum says the exhibition is no longer happening for “reasons outside of our control” and that “with her other commitments… the show was not viable.”

Abramović has apologised for the cancellation, reiterating that the number of shows appear to be one of the reasons: "They say that it is complicated. One reason was there were two exhibitions in Australia. It was too much to make a third one. The trustees, they didn't want any more,” she told the Herald.

Her performance art is known for its diversity and has ranged from sharing breath with one-time partner and artist Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) for 20 minutes (Breathing in / Breathing out), having their hair tied together for 16 hours straight (Relation in Time) and sitting alone across from gallery attendees, holding their gaze (The Artist is Present).

Although news of the cancellation is disappointing, there are still two opportunities to see Abramović in action, starting this month.

Marina Abramovic: In Residence is at Pier 2/3, Sydney, from June 24 to July 5. Tickets to Marina Abromović’s keynote address will be available at 9am June 9.

Private Archaelogy will show at the MONA, Hobart, from June 13 to October 5.