Live Arts Festival – Festival Plus: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present/SSS
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
dir. Matthew Akers, US, 2012, video, 105 mins, b/w and color
Marina Abramović: seductive, controversial, fearless, outré. Her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (March – May 2010) featured an extraordinary performance, experienced by 750,000 people, many of whom waited hours for the chance to sit silently across from her at a small table, where she remained for 7½ hours daily, without eating, drinking, or moving. The intensity of her gaze, the intimacy of the act (paradoxically in a huge, brightly lit room, filled with onlookers) moved some to tears and other acts of extreme emotion. Matthew Akers’ film records the artist as she prepares herself physically and spiritually for the ordeal — as might be expected — with tremendous discipline, humor and guile. With comments by MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach, art critic Arthur Danto, gallerist Sean Kelly, and hundreds of members of the public (including James Franco) who were fortunate enough to attend this landmark event.
dir. Charles Atlas, US/Spain, 1989, 6 mins, color
Marina Abramović collaborated with videomaker Charles Atlas on this striking work of autobiographical performance. Abramović delivers a monologue that traces a concise personal chronology. This brief narrative history, which references her past in the former Yugoslavia, her performance work, and her collaboration with and separation from fellow performance artist Ulay, is intercut with images of Abramović engaged in symbolic gestures and ritual acts — scrubbing her feet, staring like Medusa as snakes writhe on her head. Closing her litany with the phrase “time past, time present,” Abramović invokes the personal and the mythological in a poignant affirmation of self.