In the current New Yorker, there is a long profile of the performance artist Marina Abramovic that caused me to wonder: Is my life actually Art?
Abramovic has been provoking and shocking people for thirty years. Next week, MOMA is hosting a retrospective of her work, with actors performing some of her most famous “pieces.” That alone is controversial; even her former collaborator and lover, Uwe Laysiepen, thinks it’s fundamentally dishonest to recreate performance art.
Most of Abramovic’s art has involved subjecting herself to pain and humiliation (a genre called ordealism.) Reading about it, you can’t help but feel that this art is beyond parody. My favorite piece is the one where she scrubbed a roomful of rotting, maggot-infested cow bones on her hands and knees, sobbing while video’s of her parents were projected on the walls of the “space.”
In another early piece, she stood still while the audience was offered a wide array of implements with which to torment her.
At MOMA, she will mount a work called “The Artist is Present,” in which she will sit still at a table for ten hours a day, staring into space, throughout the retrospective. Audience members may choose to sit opposite her at the table.
Here is the thing: I personally sit staring into space for MORE THAN TEN HOURS A DAY! I never thought of this as Art, but now I’m mulling it over. Maybe it is Art, a sort of confrontation with time and eternity, a refusal to interact with gainful employment, and therefore a statement about the subjugation of of modern Man, I mean Women.
Read the article in the New Yorker if you possibly can. It’s a transformative experience that doesn’t even require you to get up off your ass!