Have you seen The Artist is Present? It’s a documentary following the 2010 exhibition by Marina Abramovic by the same name. Several years back, at the Museum of Modern Art, Abramovic held a retrospective of some of her most popular, influential and controversial works. She also unveiled a new performance piece wherein she sat in a chair for 7 hours straight, 6 days a week for 3 months and allowed people to sit across from her as long as they wanted. Despite the simplicity of the performance, it became a mentally and physically demanding experience for Abramovic, as well as transformative for both her and the participants.
We watched the movie a couple weeks ago and I’d highly recommend it. Her work can be upsetting and disturbing but also enlightening. She explores questions surrounding male/female relationships, hierarchical societies and the limits of the human body. Her oeuvre is truly fascinating.
The film also offers an interesting study on the dichotomy between life and art and the ever-puzzling question, What is art? It doesn’t set out to answer or explain anything, rather it adds to the already rich discussion, forcing us to examine our own preferred aesthetics in contrast to others’. Does running naked into a wall count as art? Does filming yourself screaming until your voice gives out count as art? If not, then why does painting count as art? Does it still count if the canvas is a body? Must art be beautiful?
After “The Artist is Present” closed Abramovic struggled with what to do next. This past summer she held an exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery titled, “512 Hours.” The title refers to the amount of time she will be in the gallery, walking around with visitors. There will be nothing in the gallery except for her and the patrons. Is this art?
You can watch the documentary on Netflix and iTunes. Let me know if you see it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(oh, and welcome to December! When did that happen?!)