A Short Fim Review- "Marina Abramovic- The Artist is Present"

Here is my unedited initial impression of this artist and her work- I do highly recommend looking at some of her pieces either online, in the documentary or in a museum near you. I found this documentary was a bit difficult for me but was well worth the thoughts and spiritual work it provoked. Her work does contain nudity so be forewarned. :)

This documentary left me feeling raw and so vulnerable… in a place where I needed my prayer and spiritual life to hold me together, to recognize how I rush and rush and rush and even when I sacrifice, it is so little in comparison to some of the acts of others… to recognize my vulnerability and my need that I rarely show to others… and wondering what I would do if I had the opportunity to sit in front of this artist and what mirror image of myself and my feelings I would see and have to recognize.

“It takes such a long time to take you seriously…”

At one point, Ms. Abramovic laughs that she isn’t asked the question… finally… “Why is this art?” I found myself thinking this at the same moment and wondered at how it is different from acting or theatrical performance. I think it might be a sign of how much we do not understand her work or what the difference is between some forms of performance art and how thin the line can sometimes be…. How to walk that line and not break it. This artist recognizes that her body is a legitimate medium and she can use it to make many powerful statements and to reveal the humanity in human nature… for what is “art except for revealing human nature.” The work “The Artist is Present” is quite simply the most creative and thought provoking piece I have ever watched and I find myself terribly disappointed that I have not really seen it except through the lens of a camera and the potential shared experience of the artist and audience third hand… which will never convey the true experience. This particular piece really depended on her stamina, physical and mental strength and courage to complete- as one critic said, “The Artist is Present is so brave… because it can fail.”

“What is beautiful about the MOMA performance… she’s treating actually every human being she is encountered with the same attention and same respect which is pretty shocking…”

“There are many different reasons that people come to sit in front of me… some of them are angry, some of them curious, some of them just want to know what happened… some of them are really open and you feel incredible pain… so many people have so much pain. When they are sitting in front of me it’s not about me anymore because very soon I am just the mirror of their own self”

This is what I felt when I was watching her just sitting and ‘being in space’ for each person in front of her. For a brief moment she felt like my religious advisor… someone I should kneel before and open my heart to… someone with whom I have been taught to be vulnerable and honest with… and as they look into my eyes, they are supposed to hear the spirit whisper the things that I need them to know but cannot or will not find the words to express. And as I looked into her eyes for a brief moment, I felt like this was a small glimpse of what it would be like to see my Heavenly Mother in this world. To sit with an invisible boundary between us and no way to touch or talk but in those moments to recognize each other, to let our hearts and hopes do the talking and our eyes the interacting. To have her acknowledge my presence and to smile… To be that vulnerable is so difficult to behave safely in this world and its thin veneer of kindness and civilized behavior that is so easily cracked… is a brave and challenging thing for each of us to do. It is not something I do easily and to find myself feeling such vulnerability and spiritual need from her work tells me how powerfully it hit me.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is art and compelling work at that. This artist has helped me to open up my viewpoint on art and what it is and what its function might be in my life and the culture around me. I found the nudity so troubling at the beginning- I am so uncomfortable with the human body including my own- yet it felt right and appropriate by the end of the film. In fact, I found myself wanting to discover where her next exhibit is and maybe attend… no matter whether Fox news calls her a “Yugoslavian born provocateur”…. I’m hooked!

pictures from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramovi%C4%87,

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