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Sitting with Marina
Heather Rose

Marina Abramovi&263;, The Artist Is Present, 2010 
75-day performance at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy Marina Abramovi&263; Archives and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. Photograph Marco Anelli © Marina Abramovi&263;
Nothing quite prepared me for the utter simplicity of the woman in the vivid red gown seated at the table. It was 15 April 2010, almost officially spring in New York. In the great white box of the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Marina Abramovic had seen little of the days outside. Since the second week of March she had been sitting for seven hours each day, ten on Fridays, meeting the gaze of anyone who sat opposite.

According to the Japanese performance artist Seiji Shimoda, Ďart is the way to see invisible thingsí, and experiencing Abramovicís ĎThe Artist is Presentí was a fine balance of the seen and the unseen. Abramovicís dark mane of hair was swept over one shoulder in a thick braid. Her skin was the colour of church candles. The blonde wood table and two chairs had an IKEA-like modesty. There was more than the normal amount of reverence found in art galleries floating about. People were standing, kneeling, sitting cross-legged on the floor, settled in as if they hadnít left, nor did they intend to leave, for many hours. They were all intent on Abramovic; who was, at that moment, sitting opposite an older man in a tweed jacket, the two of them gazing into each otherís eyes.

If Abramovic was an acquired taste before this, she became haute cuisine during ĎThe Artist is Presentí.

This article appears in excerpted form. You can read the entire article in Art &Australia's Autumn 2012 issue.

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