Presence, experience, change

When something really impressive touches me, I am very often incapable of talking about it for some time. It is as if the impact of the experience must take its time to sink in. This is exactly the way I felt after seeing the work of Marina Abramović last week at the MoMA, in New York.

Never have I been so close or felt so connected to an artist who gives herself so entirely to art. The idea of giving up oneself to the purpose of discovery and artistic expression is something I most honestly admire. This is how Abramović relates to her body of work.

The exhibition is divided in two parts: a thorough retrospective of her lifelong work and a second part, which is a brand new performance taking place at the museum. The first part is a highly illustrative introduction not only to the Serbian artist’s career but also to Performance Art as a whole, in an enlightening insight guided by Marina’s own explanations to every piece through the audio guide.

Performance Art is a very particular and unique manifestation of Art in the sense that presence is a key ingredient to its creation, be it the artist’s own presence or the audience’s. Marina Abramović was one of the first artists to become aware of the unavoidable exchange of energy between the performer and the audience, through a series of works in which she deliberately uses this interaction to create something new.

Exploring bodily limitations and sensations but also history, human empathy and the possibilities of the mind, Marina has often chosen to use the force present in the viewers’ curiosity to add extra meaning to her works. The audience becomes part of the art and thus begins to grasp its purpose and hopefully leaves the performance feeling quite changed.

The Artist is Present is a masterpiece.


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