POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
Marina Abramovic sitting during her performance The Artist Is Present
An observation on MoMA’s website dedicated to the Marina Abramovic exhibition, which closed yesterday: The artist has the entire 6th floor dedicated to her work and, but for a couple interviews about her early performances, none of it’s on the site. There are however prominent links to the sitter portrait flickr feed as well as the live webcam to her performance on the second floor The Artist is Present. That sure creates a focus. Now, no one could have predicted the number of tearing sitters and adoring fans that showed up at the Museum or the numerous memeing websites, but I’m really not a fan of the “it’s all part of the work” rationalization for Abramovic’s epic media circus when the institution’s marketing strategies have so clearly played a role in what this work became. Plus, the turn of phrase is the classic art catch-all often used to make art seem more important or encompassing than it really is. The Artist is Present may be as significant as its press, but we’re not going to know for certain until after the hype has subsided. This means revisiting this topic in say, December 2011. Consider this date slated.
UPDATE: A point of clarification: This post isn’t to suggest that Marina herself didn’t have a role in the theatricality of the work, but rather that there was a structure in place to capitalize on this. I mean, what are the chances Marina said to MoMA: I think we should create a flickr account of my sitters. Also, let’s send that link to Kottke — I’m speculating here, but you get the drift.