Sunday, June 13, 2010

The artist is present

OK, so I'm making an exception to good blogging etiquette by a) not writing about tech or cooking b) not applying an editorial filter to this ridiculously long post: I'm copy-pasting raw notes I took on my iPhone last month when seeing Marina Abramovic's retrospective at the MoMA - "The artist is present" - probably one of the most inspiring exhibits ever. And I seem to be in good company on that one:-) @Ladygaga quoted Marina on Larry King Live and there was a lively discussion on my facebook wall regarding what was arguably the pièce de résistance of the exhibit: Marina's 3-month sitdown with members of the public (see pic and screendump below, apparently people were breaking down in front of her).

If you've come this far in the post you're interested enough in art to read on. The only thing I've added to my raw notes below is pictures of the artwork. Where pictures were to be found that is. For some reason exhibit photos are hard to come by so I had to do with b/w pictures from the 70s. This seems weirdly antithetical - don't artists/ museums want to disseminate their work? (On a side note: MoMA what's the deal with not letting people take pictures even if without flash? I wasn't even allowed to type the notes below in the exhibit hall but had to step outside??). Note that most of the works were re-performed with live actors / models.

iPhone notes copy-paste below with bonus pictures ->

"Notes Marina Abramovic exhibit MoMA NYC march may 2010.

Elevates? Performance art to the rank of music by re enacting
performance art from the 60s and 70s as were it a musical score.

Teaches us to see in that seemingly everyday moments are abstracted
and put on display. Almost as if you froze time. Eg two people who's
fingers almost touch.

Demonstrates power of human presence via
performance art.  People standing in art space has more energy than
just sculpture. The power of human sculptures.  Or when you have to
pass through two people standing up.<-the tension of everyday moments.

Creates powerful moments. Eg standing almost touching with fingers or
stretching a bow with arrow at Ulay's breast.
Or live nature morte sitting at opposite ends of table just staring at
each other

Displays great moments of intimacy eg hair knots tied together. Or
breathing in each others mouths

Expiation.  Purification of body. How our bodies play an important
role in mythology or pagan customs. Eg women showing genitals during
rain or men fornicating with the ground or women fondling their breats
during drought.

Reminds us of different ways of acting. Different behaviors that could
be permitted. Good use for galleries.

No performances involving water or purification?
Washing cow bones only piece with washing. One piece she washes a
skeleton. Memento mori art lying down with skeleton on top of her.
Exposes the way we use our body todo whatever. Questions the way we
interact with our bodies. She always puts herself on stage but her art
seldomly involves social interactions and only indirectly questions
social norms.

Walking across the great wall of china. To meet her former lover as
one last goodbye - the idea of making beautiful gestures of how
actions are thoughtful and produce reactions in people. Great wall of
china Simplest version of the power of gestures. How interacting with
your own body might even seem socially subversive. In one of her early
works though it's not what she does to her body that matters and what
could be subversive. She invites the audience to use her body (knives on display) as an
object thereby inverting her original line of questioning. - so you
say what I do to my body is subversive , well I'll invite you to do
whatever you please with mine.

Post sept 11 work was about engaging in energy with the audience
sounds cliche but that's what all her work is about- exposing and
creating energy

Invites people to participate in the art

Forces people to observe bodily pain

Her work likely more forceful in a retrospective (didactic ) where you
can appreciate the full consistency of her work.

Work to be sent out to schools etc where the subversiveness
and usefulness of her art would be put to work and not confined to a

Voilà - end of raw notes. Two other pretty awesome Marina resources are the MoMA Flickr page of "The artist is present" and Arthur C. Danto's analysis in the nytimes. Unfortunately, the exhibit closed end-May but the website is still up incl. a nice interview with Marina- check it out!