Marina Abramović was shot by photographer Beau Greely for i-D magazine, and Greely filmed this behind-the-scenes video. Ever since "The Artist Is Present" was mounted at MoMA last spring, the Marina Story has been a feature of certain casual conversations in New York City. People love to tell their Marina Stories, so this seems like as good a time as any to share mine. In late April, just as the weather in New York was beginning to brook unstockinged legs, I was at an opening for Paolo Canevari when Marina Abramović walked in. She was dressed in an impeccable black pant suit and, after greeting the artist, she walked through the gallery in conversation with a very tall man, I'd say 6'4" or even 6'5". I spent eight hours in line but notably failed to sit with Abramović at MoMA last year, and although the context was entirely different — this was not a work of art, this was not her performing for my or anyone else's benefit or elucidation, this was her, going about her business, chatting with a friend, supporting her ex-husband, I was seeing the performer but not a performance — I couldn't help but feel that just to witness her presence was a kind of privilege, a different but perhaps a greater one than I might have experienced at the museum. I didn't talk to her and I (hope I) didn't stare. (The show, of printing plates without their associated prints, meant there was Canevari's work and a couple astonishing Morandi landscapes to digest.) When I told Sadie later that night, I started off excited but I quickly developed the sense that maybe it wasn't that good of a Marina Story — I didn't run into her buying milk at the corner store, she didn't happen to be next to me at the Korean nail parlor, and besides, I didn't even talk to her, I'm not sure as a story that it even counts — so I kind of withdrew it from circulation as a Marina Story. The dude I was with at the opening ran into her at another event a few weeks later. He says he talked to her. Good for him.
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I was seeing the performer but not a performance — I couldn't help but feel that just to witness her presence was a kind of privilege ...
This is exactly what has gone terribly wrong with the trajectory of Marina Abramovic's career.