“You know what is interesting?” posits Marina Abramović. “After 40 years of people thinking you’re insane and you should be put in mental hospital, you final actually get all this acknowledgement. It takes such a long to take it seriously.” As the artist speaks, she’s having her hair styled, for yet another performance. From stage to art installation to interview ad back again, Abramović is, as MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach explains, “never not performing.” As she presents this process in the outstanding documentary Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present—which premieres on HBO 2 July—you become aware of not only of how she conceives and plans a show (for instance, Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, for which she sat with audience members, one at a time, for seven hours a day, six days a week, from 14 March through 31 May 2010), but also how she conceives of time, how bodies occupy and endure it. “Marina is an artist that visualizes time, using her body in the space with the audience,” says Biesenbach. “By the mere duration, she brings time in as a weight, a weight on the performer’s shoulders taking a piece out of the performer’s life as a value.” At the same time—so to speak—the performance showcases that viewers also perform, and that your experience is a function of time, produced by time and in time—present, for a moment, anyway.
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