You Are Present

New York’s prestigious MoMA  (Museum of Modern Art) is showing its biggest performance art exhibition ever in honour of the 40-year career of performance artist Marina Abramovic.

The biggest draw of the festivities however is facing the artist herself.

Photo By Scott Rudd © 2010

Dedicated to sitting on a chair for seven hours a day, six days a week (no breaks, no stretching, no eating, just a water bottle and a suspected catheter) she offers an empty seat across from her and a small table to those willing to wait five hours in line to stare at her. In a large square room. Surrounded by a hundred or so people also staring at you.

Being awkward is still taboo. Especially in New York.

But what sounds like punishing boredom is almost nirvana for most who participate; some have come to tears, some run away and some return for more. The title of the performance is The Artist Is Present which is apt for what the performance masterpiece is about; a ready availability of “feeling” the Artist. Perhaps a nod to public accountability and the slow rise demand of social transparency, what a great way to confront passive aggressiveness than with confrontation itself. And really, it’s just sitting in a chair and looking.

I think they lose all perception of time when they get up there.”

The performance art exhibition includes around several dozen other concepts including a reenactment of Imponderabilia (1977) where show-goers must squeeze by two standing nude performers at a narrow entrance to get in, or enter via an out of the way side door.

Ultimately, this show is for those willing to challenge themselves, while questioning how we deal with others, instead of taking the side door.

The MoMA exhibition runs until May 31, 2010.

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