Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Artist is Present

Some time ago, I became fascinated with Marina Abramovic. It probably had something to with our shared name. I was curious. I remember the first article I read about her left me disgusted, intrigued, and shocked. As if I had not expected this from another Marina.

If you are not familiar with her, Marina Abramovic is a Serbian-Yugoslavian performance artist who primarily uses her body as her canvas and invokes physical pain on herself in exploration of different subject matters. The first work of hers I had heard of was called Lips of Thomas and here is the description of what she would do:


I slowly eat 1 kilo of honey with a silver spoon.

I slowly drink 1 liter of red wine out of a crystal glass.

I break the glass with my right hand.

I cut a five pointed star on my stomach with a razor blade.

I violently whip myself until I no longer feel any pain.

I lay down on a cross made of ice blocks.

The heat of a suspended space heater pointed at my stomach
Causes the cut star to bleed.

The rest of my body begins to freeze

I remain on the ice cross for 30 minutes until the audience interrupts the piece by removing the ice blocks from underneath.

Having read about her in the past, I never expected to see her work, nor did I think I would want to. I actually thought I vehemently wouldn't want to.

However, Abramovic has a show that opens tomorrow at MoMA called The Artist is Present. In it are re-enactments of her previous works performed by artists she trained herself in a vigorous program, as well as performance by Abramovic herself wherein she sits still in a chair across a table from another empty chair, which is open for visitors to sit in and interact with her. If I hadn't been bombarded with articles about the show (New Yorker, New York Times, NY Magazine), I probably wouldn't have mustered the courage to go. But, I think I'm ready. Well, not ready, more like determined to face my fears and see it, see her. And, I think I even want to sit down in that chair in front of her.

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