mardi 21 décembre 2010


Marina Abramović is one of the most compelling artists of our time. Seductive, fearless and outrageous, she has been redefining what art is for nearly forty years.  Using her own body as a vehicle, pushing herself beyond her physical and mental limits, and at times risking her life in the process, Marina creates performances that challenge, shock and move us. Through her and with her, boundaries are crossed, consciousness expanded -- and art as we know it is reborn.
The feature-length documentary film MARINA follows the artist as she prepares for what may be the most challenging performance of her life -- a new piece that will be the highlight of a major retrospective of her work, taking place this spring at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. To be given a retrospective at one of the world's premiere museums is, for any living artist, the most exhilarating sort of milestone. For Marina, it is far more -- it is the chance to finally silence the question she has been hearing over and over again for four decades: "But why is this art?" At 63, she has lost patience with being branded "alternative." That designation, she says, just gives people license to rip her off. What she wants now is for performance art to be legitimated. She is thinking of her legacy -- and the MOMA show, as she well knows, can secure it once and for all. "It is," she says simply, "the most important [show] of my life."
For the retrospective, Marina will perform an ambitious new work, aptly titled "The Artist is Present." All day, every day, from early March until the end of May, 2010, she will sit at a table in the museum's atrium, in what she describes as a "square of light." Members of the audience will be invited to join her, one at a time, at the opposite end of the table. There will no talking, no touching, no overt communication of any kind. Her objective is to achieve a luminous state of being and then transmit it -- to create what she calls "an energy dialogue" with the audience.
The Artist is Present will be the longest-duration solo work of Marina's career, and by far the most physically and emotionally demanding she has ever attempted. When she conceived it, she knew instantly that it was the right piece: because the mere thought of it, she says, "made me nauseous." But she does not allow herself to contemplate failure. "You have to put your whole self in, say something. . . that makes you an artist. Spill your guts. No compromise. Be radical. Invent something new."
Meanwhile, in the galleries upstairs, 36 young artists from various disciplines will be "re-performing" some of Marina's most famous works, among them: Imponderabilia, in which two performers, both completely nude, stand in a doorway so close together that the public must squeeze between them to pass; and Luminosity, in which a lone artist, also nude, sits on a bicycle seat mounted high on the gallery wall. These are grueling pieces, incredibly taxing to both the body and the mind, and it is vital that the re-performers are prepared.
Several months before the retrospective opens, Marina invites them to a workshop at her home in upstate New York. They sleep outside, bathe in the river, refrain from talking and eating for four full days. There is a strict regimen of individual and group exercises, such as walking backwards in slow motion, counting grains of rice, and observing a single object for hours. The goal is to enable the re-performers to become aware of their limits and to find their own charismatic space. (We edited a trailer from the material captured at the workshop.

Of course, it is not merely Marina's performances that will be recapitulated at MOMA -- it is also her life. Indeed, the show being mounted in the upstairs galleries is a narrative that tracks not only her development as an artist, but as a woman. And as the various installations are prepared, Marina is brought into a stark confrontation with her own story: with her influences and her passions, with risks taken and fears conquered, with the relationships that have at times defined and nearly consumed her. As she puts it, after a day in the unfinished gallery space: "My entire past life is rushing in on me." We'll explore that past life as she re-experiences it, weaving in and out of the moments and events that have made Marina who she is.
With total access granted by Abramovic and The Museum of Modern Art, MARINA will be a mesmerizing cinematic journey inside the world of radical performance, and an intimate, engaging portrait of a woman who draws no distinction between life and art.

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