Thursday, October 15, 2009

Events NYC | Marina Abramovic Presentation at Miller Theathre

Marina Abramovic came to Miller Theater at Columbia University last week. Introduced by Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts, she looked lovely, trim, and youthful, with a velvet band holding back her flowing dark hair.

She gave a preview of 5 installations to be shown in her upcoming MOMA show. She asserted there would be no pain for the exhibiting human subjects. But she showed how she had trained them in bodily and sensory control. Perhaps the new Institute for Durational Presence which she expects to open in Hudson NY will offer more opportunities for her work with others in “training for the responsibility of simply being human”, as she put it.

She presented an overview of her work from its beginnings. She believes that the worse childhood you have, the better artist you become; that you have your best ideas at age 13 and then continually recycle them.

Marina was born and came of age in Serbia, a land of continuing strife. Members of her family were leaders in Serbian institutions—the Serbian Orthodox church and the Serbian army. These institutions were/are in the forefront of that nation’s battles with its Balkan political neighbors, its non-Orthodox inhabitants, as well as enemies from afar. Surely this environment has played a role in her ability to endure discomfort, stress, hunger, gut wrenchers, even pain for her performances.

Marina constantly alluded to energy—in her work she takes energy from the audience. She believes that energy sustains the artist. Clearly she feels the transference of energy among humans, whatever their place in the tableaux she sets up. It’s charged and it’s in constant motion—a clear difference from energies given off by a static color in a painting or a shocking image.

While painting was a very early medium for her, sound emerged as a predominant feature early in her artistic development. She used sound, not as a static medium, but as a way to change the environment. For example, she put recordings of thousands of birds in a tree in a Yugoslav town which no longer had any, because of war.

She shared with us her
Artist Manifesto. Some excerpts:

An artist should not lie
An artist should not compromise
An artist should not kill
An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
An artist should develop an erotic point of view
An artist should be erotic
An artist should have self control
An artist should not have self control
An artist must have total self control
An artist should not be depressed (depression is not productive)

This artist is a sure-footed person with a remarkable intellect and intense creative energy. We look forward to her MOMA show and other work.