Last week I begin blog series “Women in Art Wednesdays”.This isn’t Wednesday, but this is about the documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present which I viewed this past weekend.
I am not particularly well versed in performance art. I was aware of Marina Abramovic and I read about the retrospective of her work at MOMA in 2010, By the time it was over, 750,000 people had come for the performance , sometimes even camping out on 53rd Street. Why? for the opportunity to see Ms Abramovic face to face. She sat in a plain wooden chair, gazed straight ahead into the eyes of the patron seated across from her. Click HERE for a video of an example of this.
The documentary was recorded by Matthew Akers, who was given access to her home, her studio, even her bathtub! Showing her preparing in advance for the show at MOMA, the film is interspersed with videos of previous performance pieces going back 30+ years. You learn a little historical information about Ms. Arbramovic and her performances. You witness her reunion with Ulay, her lover and collaborator for 12 years (in quite a touching and sweet scene).
I discovered this woman who is known for mutilating and whipping herself in performance art is also quite funny! She laments to an interviewer that no one asks her anymore “why is this art?” She even discusses a performance piece with the magician David Blaine. But, alas, her gallerist talks her out of it by pointing out what Blaine does is illusion and what she does is real.
However, the strength of the documentary begins with seeing the daily challenges of what might at first glance seem simple. Ms. Abramovic is in her chair when MOMA opens each day (6 days a week), and sits unmoving until the museum closes. One by one people come and sit opposite her – their faces full of emotion, often in tears. As I viewed the documentary, I started feeling an emotional pull, witnessing something wonderful, something strange, something exciting and something rare.
As someone said, you had to be there. This documentary is the next best thing to that!
Witness Ulay’s surprise appearance at opening night here (it is not included in the documentary, but very touching.)
And, how did she sit for so long without going to the bathroom? According to a piece in the NY Magazine – she held it!
Also – note there is nudity throughout this film.
For upcoming blogs on women artists:
B – think spiders
C – a working artist, she made me change the way I view the patterns on the street and sidewalks forever!
If you have an idea for a female artist, send me an email. I have a working list, but I’m willing to change it up! Feel free to post a link to a female artist you like and admire too!