Monday, May 24, 2010

Sitting with the Artist's Image: Links and Thoughts

Link to NYT article Sitting with Marina Abramovic

MOMA Live video link of the performance

MOM Link to images of those who have sat with Abramovic

MOMA Interview with Abramovic: (I would highly recommend this interview. It is fairly short but gives some excellent framework for thinking about the previous links.)

The author of the NYT article, Arthur C. Danto, describes Abramovic's face achieving a state of luminosity as he sits in front of her. Just like in viewing an image, each of the quote unquote sitter(s) are having a dialogue that is one-sided, guessing at intentions/purpose/composition. (I.e. many of these images show very deep emotion or blankness. Why weep? What is being thought about/remembered/connected that draws out that particular response?)

To me, the really interesting aspect of this site is the link to the images. Take a couple of minutes and click through the images of the people staring/gazing/______ back at Abramovic. One of the really nice things the MOMA did in setting up this slider was to insert different images of Abramovic at different points. (i'm guessing these different iterations represent different days). This helps the viewer of the images to reengage with the slightly changing 'who', 'other' the people are looking at.
However I would suggest that while this experience of sitting and wordlessly gazing/staring/_______ has the two individuals observing each other as well as those who are waiting observing the two sitting, there is also the level of us as Internet observers seeing a moment frozen as a static pov as though we were/are Abramovic. (There's also the video link as well which allows a quote unquote live view.) The computer screen viewer bc of the camera angle takes the artist's spot via the screen and stares back. The installation, which demonstrates a certain discourse in antithesis to traditional paint/photography/etc., between and being observed by two living people + crowd within a museum is turned back into a static encounter as photograph. Thus the archive of this event, even while it is happening, via photographs, causes the installation to make a complete circle back to the beginning of what it was attempting to subvert/question. Not to abuse Benjamin but the aura of the event, the one-timeness of it is severely undercut by the taking/existence of photographs. The images are even called portraits on the image page. If the point that the Artist is Present, why are those who are sitting documented (MOMA's word). Does the web site provide an additional layer of complexity or is it only marketing?
Conceivably the individual can return home pull up this site and stare back at themselves.Not that this is necessarily more narcissistic or even more solipsistic than normal self-viewing (mirror, digital camera) but it removes the puts the individual into the place where Abramovic was. Is the MOMA simply using the images as advertising to pull people to come 'experience it' for themselves?

Abramovic states in the interview linked at the top that she sees performance as being able to directly link with the public preferring this to not being secluded in the studio. But the idea of what quote unquote public is in this instance is radically changed because I can privately view a public event without physically attending so that even though the Artist may be present in that location the viewer is not. It could be conceivable that none of us would have to physically attend and could simply stare back from our computers leaving the artist with nothing to see or be present to.

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