The World Just Cannot Get Over Marina Abramović

Illustration for article titled The World Just Cannot Get Over Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović celebrated the end of her marathon MoMA show with a dinner in her honor, hosted by Givenchy. Ciara, Courtney Love, and Patti Smith all turned up — James Franco did, too — and Elle's Anne Slowey tweeted it.

An uncharacteristically tabloid-y ending to a thought-provoking retrospective? Hardly, if you believe what the artist told the New York Times. She and Givenchy's creative director, Riccardo Tisci, have been BFFs "for many years." (Women's Wear Daily says Tisci met Abramović "three and a half years ago through her ex-husband." Which is more specific, but at the same time misleading, because Marina Abramović has never married. If Tisci doesn't know that, how friendly can they be? UPDATE: In fact, Abramović married her partner of 12 years, Italian artist Paolo Canevari. They divorced recently. From 1971-1976, she was married to a fellow Serb named Nesa Paripovic.) In any case, Abramović wore a Givenchy dress and a Givenchy snakeskin jacket to her party, both custom-made.

"It was very difficult for me to fall asleep because my brain was going like millions of hours, just so much impressions and felt such incredible love reaction from the audience it was so moving. And this morning we had many things to do and now I'm here and everything looks unreal to me. But this is the biggest moment of my life," said the artist.


"It's a really interesting statement on the human soul," offered Christina Ricci. "If I have a television on in front of me, I can sit still for a pretty long time."

"700 hours? Wow, that's amazing," said Ciara. "I am like all over the place, I'm very fidgety, that wouldn't work for me."

But perhaps weirder than any actor's armchair art criticism was that offered by the man who should have been an expert: Klaus Biesenbach, the show's own curator. WWD's breathtakingly undermine-y un-bylined party reporter sets the scene thus:

An energetic Klaus Biesenbach gave a rambling speech in which he repeatedly heckled Abramovic.

"Marina doesn't see anyone without glasses. Marina wear your glasses, please. Can you look at me please, Marina? She's not listening to me," he babbled incoherently.


The after-party was, fittingly perhaps for a show that had an invisible velvet rope, at the Boom Boom Room, an exclusive club on top of the recently opened Standard Hotel. (It actually overlooks one of the last remaining meat packing plants in the Meatpacking District.)

There are a lot of questions about the durability of performance art. Critics, museums, and galleries have yet to reach any consensus on what, exactly, constitutes a performance piece: is it a discrete series of activities that can be re-enacted, like a play? Or is performance art necessarily live and never to be repeated? If it only exists live, doesn't that artificially limit its audience? If it can be re-enacted, doesn't that invite changes to its meaning? Abramović's own work — especially her 2005 work, Seven Easy Pieces, in which she controversially re-performed the works of five other artists, and two new pieces of her own, and also her just-ended retrospective, which featured extensive re-performances — has often tested the various hypotheses. But if we've learned one thing from the wave of blog coverage her MoMA show has engendered, and which shows barely any sign of abating, it is this: performance art seems to have a home online. And The Artist Is Present will live on, in a variety of more- and less-twisted ways, on the Internet.


Take this Nerve essay, written by a guy who imagines (hopes?) he has some kind of connection with the naked re-performer he ogles for 20 minutes. (He describes himself as "aroused," and seems not to realize that the woman may be staring at him not because she shares his erotic frisson, but by means of challenge.) Take this writer, who wants you to know that he does "a lot of [a word for cocaine]" and totally, really like meant to go to the show with a friend. Except neither of them knew where MoMA was, and they both had better things to do, like Adderall. Take the lady who stepped up to the chair opposite Abramović on the last day of the show, and whipped off her dress just as she was about to sit down. "I still can't believe I was escorted out of the building by a group of guards and told that if I returned, I would be arrested," she says. "I thought nudity would bring joy, spontaneity! Not TEARS, CHAOS."

Take the nifty stop-motion compressed version of the three-month-long live video feed:


Marina Abramovic Webcam Capture Animation from themetree on Vimeo.

Maybe there is something about the phenomenology of the Internet — an infinitely recursive space where content is ephemeral, like a throwaway remark, and permanent, like a scratchy recording — that suits itself to the experience and discussion of performance art.


Marina Abramovic's Costume Change [On The Runway]
Givenchy Celebrates Marina Abramovic [WWD]
Seven Easy Pieces [Official Site]
Seeing Is Believing [Nerve]
Marina Abramovic The Staring Woman At MoMA [Thought Catalog]
Marina's Streaker Speaks Out [Gothamist]
How Marina Abramovic's Red Velvet Rope Works [Vulture]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



i must admit, that i sat in line for 12 hrs to see marina and i am totally obsessed, like drank the kool aid, gimme the black sneakers.

it was just a weird, complacent, hyper personal experience, one that i am still processing. i also went mainly out of curiosity, and that alone was worth the waiting. waiting with strangers in line for that long fostered a sense of community, i was just texting my line buddy the other day bc she went back for the last day.

i'm kind of obsessed with the performance, i don't know how to describe it.

i think a lot of it was just sitting in front of her and realizing that she was real, that i was seeing an actual person and not an effigy of some sorts.

the work is really self centered and self reflexive but i found it to be a lot of about human interaction (what people do when having to queue for so long and how the interact with one another-politeness, rudeness, ect) but it is also a piece that is really about viewing the act of viewing.


i could go on.