Saturday, May 22, 2010

Additional Thoughts on Marina Abramovic

Much has been written over the semester about Marina Abramovic’s exhibition at the MOMA, and all of the entries have provided us with fascinating perspectives on the experience. I visited the MOMA again recently, and was intrigued by how a shift in the crowd’s energy had a major influence on the exhibit overall. It seemed as though a reverential energy enveloped the space, unlike my initial visit. The first time I visited the exhibit, the room had a strange buzz of energy that did not quite seem to fit the performance properly. This was apparently due to some celebrities that had recently participated in the performance, and many of the people seemed to be there to try and catch a glimpse of someone famous instead of experiencing art. However, my recent visit left me with a vastly different view of the performance.

Before entering the exhibit, I had visited some of Duchamp’s pieces. There was a quote of his that appeared in our discussion of Nicholas Bourriaud’s writings that kept coming to mind. Duchamp states that, “Art is a game between all people of all periods.” This was running through my mind as I watched Abramovic’s performance, and seemed to have an influence on my overall experience. I found the relational aspects of the exhibit to be more powerful than my previous encounter. When I returned home, I read parts of Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics again and felt that this passage was a perfect description of my time spent at Abramovic’s exhibit:

The form of an artwork issues from a negotiation with the intelligible, which is bequeathed to us. Through it, the artist embarks upon a dialogue. The artistic practice thus resides in the invention of relations between consciousness. Each particular artwork is a proposal to live in a shared world, and the work of every artist is a bundle of relations with the world, giving rise to other relations and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. (1)

I felt as though this helped to explain why my initial experience was not as interesting as my second visit to the exhibit. I realized that I did not fully allow a dialogue to take place with the art itself. I was too caught up in other things to have a full encounter with the art, and forgot to uphold my part of the relational art experience, thus was not able to fully engage with the work.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I appreciated the coverage of the exhibit on the MOMA’s website. It definitely serves as an extension of the exhibit itself. I found that I have watched the live stream of the performance from time to time, and am always immersed in footage. I appreciate how we are able to access the website in order to reunite with the relational experiences that we first encountered at the exhibit. It also made me wonder at which point the interactive aspects of the website were incorporated into the exhibit overall (was this first considered by Abramovic during the initial conception of the exhibit, or was it primarily designed by the MOMA?).

- Stephanie Class

(1) Bourriaud, Nicholas. Relational Aesthetics. Pg. 22.

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