Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Feature

Friday, April 20, 2012

In the spring of 2010, visitors to New York’s Museum of Modern Art could find Marina Abramović, the self-described “grandmother of performance art,” holding court. She sat silently, all day, every day, for three months. Patrons could take turns sitting across from her for as long as they pleased. She had worked with a trainer and a nutritionist to endure long days of sitting. “If it’s comfortable, your mind can just go away. It’s not right. You have to be very aware.”

Abramović’s grueling performance was the latest in four decades of grueling performances, and the centerpiece of the first retrospective of her work. Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present featured recreations of other performances, including “Imponderabilia,” in which viewers have to squeeze past two performers standing naked in a doorway; and “Luminosity,” in which another performer perches on a bicycle seat mounted on the wall. This summer, HBO will revisit that retrospective with a documentary of the same name.

MoMA had never staged a retrospective of a performance artist’s work before, and since Abramović is at the center of all of her performances, The Artist is Present created special challenges. Abramović hand-picked 36 young performers to recreate five of her pieces for the show. “Performance is a living art form,” Abramović says. “If it’s not re-performed, it’s going to die.”

(Originally aired: April 2, 2010)

Guests:

Marina Abramovic

Contributors:

Kerrie Hillman

Comments [3]

Eli Cochran from Berkeley, CA

Thank you for this thought provoking piece. I am moved by the idea that "being present" could be an extreme sport or, perhaps more apt, an extreme art.

Could you tell me what the piece of music was that was played at the end of the piece? I came to the site hoping to find a playlist for the segment.

Apr. 26 2012 12:14 PM
Michael Chlanda from Saint Louis, MO

Interesting concept art; has she ever had problems; where her works have been (due to the nudity); that is, being held in contravention of indecency laws. Maybe not, as it might be a First Amendment argument. Still, thought provoking.

Apr. 25 2012 10:49 AM
art525 from Park Slope

You do know that much of what Mz Hillman giddily reports to us about Abromovic such as having a loaded gun there for viewers to do as they wish with was not new with her. I refer you to Chris Burden who covered much of that ground. He had someone shoot him in the arm. He laid on a floor next to a live wire with a bucket that any viewer could have kicked over, he had himself crucified on the back of a Volswagen. The problem is that Abromovic's work relies on novelty and unfortunately for anyone who has been paying attention they fail in that regard. I am reminded of that quote that "Everything changes but the avant garde".

Apr. 22 2012 02:36 PM

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