True Commitment - Marina Abramović

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, July 5, 2012

Been Galluped to death on engagement?  Think you are committed to your work and organization?

Meet Marina Abramović, the first performance artist to have her work featured at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

On July 2, HBO premiered "Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present," a documentary about her 2010 show at MoMA along with a retrospective, and "re-creation" of some of her performance art.

As a proponent of "ordealism,"much of her earlier work focused on pain and self-abuse:

  • In Rhythm 10, using twenty knives and a tape recorder, she played the Russian knife game (featured in Aliens) where rhythmic jabs are made between splayed fingers.  When she cuts herself, she picks up a new knife and begins again.  When she has gone through all 20 knives, she listens to the tape recorder and tries to recreate the experience again.
  • In Rhythm 0,  she placed 72 objects (such as a rose, scissors, or a whip) that the audience was allowed to apply on her body.  The show lasted 6 hours, and the audience soon fell into two categories - aggressors and protectors
  • In Imponderabilia, she, and her collaborator Ulay, stood nude face-to-face in a doorway, and audience members must squeeze between them deciding which way to face.
The documentary closes on her major performance piece at MoMA, The Artist is Present, where, "all day, every day, from early March until the end of May, 2010, she will sit at a table in the museum's atrium, in what she describes as a "square of light." Members of the audience will be invited to join her, one at a time, at the opposite end of the table. There will be no talking, no touching, no overt communication of any kind. Her objective is to achieve a luminous state of being and then transmit it­­––to engage in what she calls "an energy dialogue" with the audience."

For 77 days, 8+ hours a day, she sat impassively on a hard wooden chair, wearing a red, white, or blue gown, and stared at each person for as long as the person was willing to sit there, whether for a few seconds, or all day.  At first there was a table between Marina and the audience member; later, the table was removed.   Reactions ranged from bemusement to sadness to laughter (as well as a great Tumblr account - Marina Abramović Made Me Cry).  MoMA put together an album on Flicker that has portraits of each person who sat across from her (though the documentary is much more moving).

So, you might think you are committed to your work, but, you are likely no Marina Abramović

One comment

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by Reagan on July 9, 2012 at 9:36 PM. #

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