The New York Times covered this show in their recent art review section. ” With the opening on Sunday of “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present,” a long-building energy wave of performance art hits the Museum of Modern Art full force. The show is a four-decade survey of work by one of the field’s most visible and magnetic figures. And its combination of stressed-out flesh in documentary films and live bodies, some nude, in the galleries, makes pretty radical fare for this institution.”
I found this exhibit to be fascinating. Not specifically the content of the exhibition but more about to how my opinion of both her and performance art changed within five minutes. Before my visit, I had a disgruntled opinion of her and her work. The movie we watched in class left me wondering about the validity of her work. I kept asking myself, “Why do so many people like her? How can anyone appreciate self-mutilation?” But this exhibition made me realize that even though there seems to be a lot of self-mutilation, it’s actually only one aspect of performance art.
After waiting for about twenty minutes in line for the museum to open, the gates were released and several avid museum visitors ran up the steps to be first in the line to sit with the artist. I thought it was really interesting that you would be able to do this, hence the name of the exhibition. Marina seems to have accomplished celebrity as an artist and this show is the perfect example of it. There were a lot of people there to see her; the crowd was not just for the Tim Burton show.
My immediate thoughts of Marina were that at 64 years old, she looks great for her age. Especially considering all of the things that she has put herself through. I also wondered what she was thinking while watching her stoically stare into space. I found other people to be wondering the same. I heard someone say, “Do you think she’s thinking about what she’ll be doing tomorrow? No, wait that’s silly. She’ll be doing this tomorrow and for another three months.” Another three months . . . that’s over six hundred hours of sitting on that chair! Thank goodness she hasa cushion.
At the show a stranger came up to me and spoke about his appreciation for her, while describing her more famous works. All of which were on display upstairs, where I began to understand the full realm of Marina’s work. Looking into that van brought on imaginary memories of she and her partner together, eating, sleeping, working, and so on.
The most attention-getting piece in the first room was the nude human doorway entitled, Imponderabila. I was surprised by what I noticed while watching the different guests pass through this doorway. The majority of the men who walked through faced the woman. The female audience members however, seemed to face both the man and woman in about the same amount. My uneducated guess would say that their reasoning was based upon their level of sexual comfort with the given sex. In the video footage of the original piece, I noticed how Marina and her partner fit together perfectly, similar to puzzle pieces.
After seeing the exhibition I have drawn the conclusion that her work reflects her life’s experiences. She reacts to these experiences through performance art. Instead of painting something to express her feelings she uses her body as the canvas. The instances where she pushes herself to the ends of her abilities is both distressing and inspiring. They’re things that others have wondered or thought of, like screaming until you lose your voice or eating an onion, but they’re also things that most of us would never do. Along with testing herself to take part in these experiences, she tests the audience to withstand watching her. As I went along for the ride in a few of the pieces, there were some that I could not. I don’t really know what that means, but I do know that I have a new appreciation for performance art. Through this exhibition I learned how this genre is a valid form of art. These conceptual works of art are just as important as the many other physical works that line museum’s walls.
Thank you www.nytimes.com for these lovely photographs.