The Hierarchy of Performative Experience

by Art Fag City on May 25, 2010 · 23 comments Blurb

POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
ART FAG CITY, MARINA ABRAMOVIC
Photo: Edward Keating/Contact Press for New York Magazine

A pet peeve about the media frenzy surrounding Marina Abramovic’s soon to close show at MoMA: Heightened by the intense popularity of The Artist is Present, a work in which Marina invites sitters to stare with her for the length of time they determine, a hierarchy of experience is created.

1. The most valuable art experience: those who get a chance to sit in the chair and stare with her.

2. Lesser valuable art experience: Those who wait in line but never get a chance to sit with her. (People never say it’s less valuable, but I’m guessing most people would take the opportunity to sit with Marina over the opportunity to wait in line until it feels like you’re waiting for  movie tickets).

3. Total residual experience: The Abramovic Internet Meme. Looking at the endless photographs of sitters on tumblr blogs and flickr, and watching MOMA’s live stream.

I wonder if the artist originally intended supply and demand to so significantly inform the experience of her work.

Editor’s note: I’ve been trying not to let this blog be taken over by Marina Abramovic news, but it’s a uphill battle. Nearly every publication has several pieces on the show, as it will close in less than a week (on May 31st). There’s a lot of material out there to respond to, even though I’m growing weary of all the talk.

  • http://www.dearjackiecollins.blogspot.com/ Sarah Baker

    I am personally good with the sit at home and be updated through the internet and magazines experience of Marina’s performance.

  • http://www.dearjackiecollins.blogspot.com/ Sarah Baker

    I am personally good with the sit at home and be updated through the internet and magazines experience of Marina’s performance.

  • http://www.dearjackiecollins.blogspot.com/ Sarah Baker

    I am personally good with the sit at home and be updated through the internet and magazines experience of Marina’s performance.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    How great would it be if the museum decided to extend the show “due to popular demand?” They could even start charging for opportunities to sit w/the artist, with a base price of $10 for five minutes and higher prices for greater durations (this would also deal with the “greedy starer” problems). Sure, poor Marina would probably get irrevocably lost within her own mind, but the ticket sales would be divine!

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    How great would it be if the museum decided to extend the show “due to popular demand?” They could even start charging for opportunities to sit w/the artist, with a base price of $10 for five minutes and higher prices for greater durations (this would also deal with the “greedy starer” problems). Sure, poor Marina would probably get irrevocably lost within her own mind, but the ticket sales would be divine!

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    How great would it be if the museum decided to extend the show “due to popular demand?” They could even start charging for opportunities to sit w/the artist, with a base price of $10 for five minutes and higher prices for greater durations (this would also deal with the “greedy starer” problems). Sure, poor Marina would probably get irrevocably lost within her own mind, but the ticket sales would be divine!

  • James Chute

    during the final week, all sitters should sit for precisely 4’33”, thus performing a John Cage piece inside the Marian Abramovic piece, which is taking place within a media cage.

  • James Chute

    during the final week, all sitters should sit for precisely 4’33”, thus performing a John Cage piece inside the Marian Abramovic piece, which is taking place within a media cage.

  • James Chute

    during the final week, all sitters should sit for precisely 4’33”, thus performing a John Cage piece inside the Marian Abramovic piece, which is taking place within a media cage.

  • Howard Halle
  • Howard Halle
  • Howard Halle
  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    @Howard: Funny, but interesting that Matthew Barney was left out of that exchange (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themuseumofmodernart/4621301845/in/set-72157623741486824/)

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    @Howard: Funny, but interesting that Matthew Barney was left out of that exchange (http://www.flickr.com/photos/themuseumofmodernart/4621301845/in/set-72157623741486824/)

  • http://manbartlett.com Man

    Re #2: I’ll go ahead and say my experience was less valuable. I walked away pretty disillusioned after waiting in line all day (and tweeting about it) and not sitting with her. Then I went home and blogged about it: http://manbartlett.tumblr.com/post/574883684/waiting-in-marinas-line-aka-wsma

    All that said, I do still support the supporting of performance art! Eek!

  • http://manbartlett.com Man

    Re #2: I’ll go ahead and say my experience was less valuable. I walked away pretty disillusioned after waiting in line all day (and tweeting about it) and not sitting with her. Then I went home and blogged about it: http://manbartlett.tumblr.com/post/574883684/waiting-in-marinas-line-aka-wsma

    All that said, I do still support the supporting of performance art! Eek!

  • http://natehillisnuts.com/ Nate Hill

    Performance artists should be servants of the people as my piece, Death Bear, has illustrated. I would paint Death Bear as the alternative to Marina’s piece in a way. People are transformed with my work (yes they even cry too), but unlike her I truly make myself accessible and participatory (I come to your house) and no preference is given to the elite or insiders. Performance artists are here to make ourselves available for the people, not the other way around. Even the masochistic elements of her work are embarrassing to me.

    Can’t wait to see how many magazine covers she gets when she’s done. Letterman appearance? Sitcom cameo? Ughhh

    Nate

  • http://natehillisnuts.com/ Nate Hill

    Performance artists should be servants of the people as my piece, Death Bear, has illustrated. I would paint Death Bear as the alternative to Marina’s piece in a way. People are transformed with my work (yes they even cry too), but unlike her I truly make myself accessible and participatory (I come to your house) and no preference is given to the elite or insiders. Performance artists are here to make ourselves available for the people, not the other way around. Even the masochistic elements of her work are embarrassing to me.

    Can’t wait to see how many magazine covers she gets when she’s done. Letterman appearance? Sitcom cameo? Ughhh

    Nate

  • http://manbartlett.com Man

    Long live Death Bear!

  • http://manbartlett.com Man

    Long live Death Bear!

  • http://www.meadmclean.com Mead McLean

    Waiting in line does bring up all kinds of issues that you wouldn’t normally consider with a performance piece. Mostly I wondered if the sitters ahead of me felt selfish when they were sitting there for 30 minutes to an hour, which is sad.

    There should have been a subjective time limit rule along with the “keep eye contact” rule. For example, the rule could have been, “remain until you feel that you have had a true moment” or some such. But that doesn’t fit with her agenda of denial/walling off communication.

    One thing I did was talk to everyone in line around and ahead of me to make sure that we were all planning on sitting for a reasonable amount of time (around 30 minutes or less). That way, we got through lots of people–go teamwork! I think I was sitter 16 on day 27 or something.

    There are a lot of issues surrounding the piece, and they’re infinitely more interesting than sitting (although I would have been annoyed if I hadn’t been able to).

    I plan on writing a blog post about my experience sometime later this week. I’ve been meaning to get to it for a month, but I’ve had other priorities.

  • http://www.meadmclean.com Mead McLean

    Waiting in line does bring up all kinds of issues that you wouldn’t normally consider with a performance piece. Mostly I wondered if the sitters ahead of me felt selfish when they were sitting there for 30 minutes to an hour, which is sad.

    There should have been a subjective time limit rule along with the “keep eye contact” rule. For example, the rule could have been, “remain until you feel that you have had a true moment” or some such. But that doesn’t fit with her agenda of denial/walling off communication.

    One thing I did was talk to everyone in line around and ahead of me to make sure that we were all planning on sitting for a reasonable amount of time (around 30 minutes or less). That way, we got through lots of people–go teamwork! I think I was sitter 16 on day 27 or something.

    There are a lot of issues surrounding the piece, and they’re infinitely more interesting than sitting (although I would have been annoyed if I hadn’t been able to).

    I plan on writing a blog post about my experience sometime later this week. I’ve been meaning to get to it for a month, but I’ve had other priorities.

  • http://www.meadmclean.com Mead McLean

    Waiting in line does bring up all kinds of issues that you wouldn’t normally consider with a performance piece. Mostly I wondered if the sitters ahead of me felt selfish when they were sitting there for 30 minutes to an hour, which is sad.

    There should have been a subjective time limit rule along with the “keep eye contact” rule. For example, the rule could have been, “remain until you feel that you have had a true moment” or some such. But that doesn’t fit with her agenda of denial/walling off communication.

    One thing I did was talk to everyone in line around and ahead of me to make sure that we were all planning on sitting for a reasonable amount of time (around 30 minutes or less). That way, we got through lots of people–go teamwork! I think I was sitter 16 on day 27 or something.

    There are a lot of issues surrounding the piece, and they’re infinitely more interesting than sitting (although I would have been annoyed if I hadn’t been able to).

    I plan on writing a blog post about my experience sometime later this week. I’ve been meaning to get to it for a month, but I’ve had other priorities.

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