Right Here, Right Now

Working in the digital space I spend a lot of time imagining a brave new world of avatars and all other things immaterial. On Monday I was brought back to earth with a bump when I went to MOMA
to see the Yugoslavian performance artist Marina Abramović.
Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

MOMA 2010
There are two parts to the exhibit, in one space is Marina herself. She sits motionlessly at a table from before MOMA opens each day until it closes. Members of the public are invited to sit across from her for as long as they wish. They can speak but she will not respond. She is silent.

This performance began in March and will continue to the end of May. 

In another part of the museum is a major retrospective of her work spanning four decades and including fifty works. Much of this is video of the artist, sometimes alone and sometimes with her erstwhile partner Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen). 
The sheer physicality of their performances, which are often done in the nude suddenly brings the body, including your own, into sharp focus. 

And then, there's the naked people actually present in the museum. They are re-enacting some of Abramović's earlier performances or as it is phrased on MOMA's website, "live re-performing"

with Ulay in Imponderabilia, 1977

Here also audience participation is welcomed. A naked man and woman face each other in a doorway, if you want to pass through them you can but they won't yield so you will need to face one or the other of them. I confess I didn't have the guts to do this but some other people did and most were smiling or laughing afterwards. I imagine from sheer self-consciousness. I felt it simply by looking at them. An employee of MOMA wrote this review of the exhibit and I couldn't have expressed my emotions any better.


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