Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Photographer Is Also Present

I don’t think that there’s any question that the art world event of the moment is the exhibition, “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present” at The Museum of Modern Art. A retrospective of work by one of the pioneers of peformance art, the centerpiece of the show is Ms. Abramovic herself, who sits silently at a table in the museum’s atrium, facing an empty chair. She’s scheduled to sit there all day, every day, for the run of her show. The museum estimates that she will sit for 716 hours and 30 minutes. Visitors to the show are welcome to sit opposite her for as long as they want and while most sit for about 15 minutes I gather some people, mindless of the lines behind them, have sat it out with Ms. Abramovic for the entire day.

Unremarked on is that a photographer working for MoMA has been there to record every interaction, taking a picture of each participant and noting the time they spent in the chair. The photographer, Marco Anelli, has posted all these pictures to flickr and there’s a slide show on MoMA’s own website – both worth looking at. It’s clearly a feat of endurance in it’s own right and it has the fascination of putting a face to the world of art lovers as well as capturing something of what the experience means to them. It’s a nice addition to the school of discrete observation pioneered by Walker Evans and Harry Callahan and once you get going clicking through the different faces, you'll find it quite addictive.

The artist, Marina Abramovic. Day 16. 600 minutes.

13 minutes.

386 minutes.

75 minutes.

10 minutes.


Mandy said...


Thank you for this.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to sit with Ms.Abramovic when I saw her at MOMA last month... I'm hoping to get back to NYC again in time to see her one more time and sit in that chair!!!

This is SO COOL.

Jennifer said...

I find this project almost as amazing as Abramovic's work. I'm just realizing that it is an extension of her project. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Incredible.

Jennifer said...

What is wrong with Facebook?!? I tried several times, in several ways, to post a link to this post. Every time I get a message saying that your site contains material that has been reported as inappropriate by some people. That is INSANE. What on your site could be considered offensive?!? I am really frustrated about this, and I'm sure others are as well.

Martn said...

Very fascinating.
What strikes me the most is that it is quite a caucasian bunch! Bourdieu was right.

Joe Holmes said...

I grabbed a shot of Marco Anelli taking a photo a couple weeks ago before a museum guard asked me to stop taking photos.

Yesterday, I got in line to sit with Abramovic, but when I chatted with the guard, I learned that most days only 5 to 12 people end up making it to the seat. A friend of mine was third in line one day, and the woman first in line sat down...and never got up until the museum closed.

I may try again next week...

rcoda said...

Looks like a gimmick to me. Got bored quickly.

Letterpress said...

This was cool. A good interlude in my discussion (fight) on the phone to get the refrigerator people to stay by their product. Who says art can't have an impact on us, day by day, minute (on the phone, waiting) by minute (on the phone, waiting).

P.S. Have you tried going into your settings on Blogspot? In the dashboard section, there is a Settings tab. On the bottom of that page is "Adult Content?" Has that been clicked to yes? Just trying to help out, in my tiny way.

Unknown said...

This was one of the most exciting and interesting experiences! To sit in front of Marina is like getting yourself in a new dimension and get yourself lost into intimacy and meaning of life. Thank you for this as I believe it really shows what humans could be and how important are relationship independently from the communication mean. You can say a lot just by looking at.
I will remember this experience forever
Thanks S

California Girl said...

I find it amazing the little boy managed to sit still for ten minutes. That would have been a record for either of my sons.

I do not understand this type of "art" and question whether it is art at all or simply a means of gaining attention. Performance art, for the most part, holds no thrill for me but neither does Warhol's work.

We can't all be artists but we can all be critics!

nina meledandri said...

as someone who has sat a few times and visited many more, i agree the photos are an incredible document that have a life & purpose of their own.

one aspect of The Artist Is Present does concern duration and taking the time to immerse oneself in these images gives the viewer an experiential sense of the performance without being there.

the images speak to commitment, presence, curiosity, vulnerability, humanity... just as the piece itself does and taking the time to view them is to become part of that energy flow.