Tag Archives: Marina Abramović

Artist as Celeb:14 minutes with Marina Abramovic

10 Aug

I know the insinuation of the title is that I maybe spoke with Marina Abramovic, but what happened was that I spent 14-ish minutes in the same general area as her.

I went to the Marina Abramoic show, 512 Hours, at the Serpentine Gallery. Marina is basically the big art-star/art-celeb right now &  I found myself sucked into her fame vortex because I waited in line for 40 minutes to see the show. I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about.

Admittedly, I don’t know her work besides the famous MOMA peformance, The Artist Is Here, and also her video with Jay-Z (read my commentary in the July 13 archive ).

When you walk into the gallery you are asked to put away sunglasses & mobile phones (anything distracting) in a locker provided. No talking.

The first room is a locker room. I put my stuff away and didn’t know what to do next. People were sitting on the benches. I thought we were going to be led into the other rooms in groups (I was let in as part of a group). Then I noticed there was a lady whispering to someone. It was Marina herself and she looks just like the picture you see of her as you’re standing in line for 40 minutes. I sat down thinking maybe she’ll come over and whisper something to me.  I thought we could talk about art & life! After a few minutes I realized everyone was probably thinking this same thing. It was like once when I was shopping at Barneys in Beverly Hills and I saw Victoria Beckham a few feet from me. I wanted her to look over and smile at me or say something frivolous about my cute outfit- but she just walked away. Attention from a celeb would be so validating in a totally fucked up way. I hated that feeling, so I walked into the next room.

In the rest of the gallery you need to wear noise canceling headphones. I walk into the center room with my noise canceling headphones and it was a pretty cool experience. People were sitting or walking around and there was no noise. It felt like a scene in an artsy film ala Spike Jones-ish. In the center of the room were small square platforms and people were gathering in a circle with their eyes closed. Is this a meditation room? Do they meditate at home or are they only doing this so they can be filmed by Marina (there’s info as you enter that alerts you to the filming in process). I sat down and watched people – I’m a people watcher. These gallery goers were partaking in some un-discussed ritual-ish, contemplative-ish performance. Is this was Marina wanted? It felt really contrived…very, “Let me stand in meditation to the art gods”. Forced. Artsy. Maybe I’m too jaded.

There are 2 rooms off to each side. I walked into the room on the left. It was filled with cots and people were napping. Ok, that’s nice. Resourceful for those tired tourists walking all day. Then I walked to the room on the right – I passed Marina talking to a young girl holding her hand. Is Marina just super nice and holds your hand? Not if she’s British (she’s not). I kinda still wanted to have her come talk to me and hold my hand so I could have a story to tell my art school friends, like when Robert Rauchenberg drunkenly flirted with me.

The second side room was filled with school desks. On the desk was a pile of lentils and rice next to a piece of paper and pencil. The gallery attendant apparently had permission to talk and told me that I’m supposed to separate the rice & lentils and count how many are in each. What bitch? Do I get a free t-shirt if I do it? I sat there for a moment and realized everyone was doing it. Stupid. I felt like I was in an undergrad performance project circa 1994. She lost me in this room.

I was done. As I walked out I saw this cute girl that had on a really cool black and white stripped skirt…very chic, especially because she had on an old yellow tank with it. It totally clashed and I loved that, so I mouthed the words “cute skirt” and I waved my hands over me like I had a skirt on too. That was the most exciting part of the show for me because the girl looked at me like “Shh! Why is this gay guy talking to me about my skirt?”. It was my mini rebellious action to this sterile-robotic environment.

Overall I liked the idea of the show. Was it about the a Universal consciousness? or maybe how we we need stillness in this crazy world? or maybe how stupid our society is for counting rice grains and lentil beans in hopes of being in the video that is being filmed? I’m totally reaching. Whatever it is it came out really contrived, but she’s famous and I totally caught her looking over at me once – maybe it will be a moment in her film; I was validated. My official 512 Hours souvenir

The Mainstreaming of Contemporary Art: Is Jay-Z Dumbing Down Smart Art?

14 Jul

Picasso & JayZ

When the celebs start infiltrating the art world I have to say “no”! They’ve already ruined fashion (JLo, Rihanna, Jessica Simpson and even Beyonce!). Now they are slowly trying to enter into contemporary art.

The current rap-god, Jay-Z…also married to pop queen Beyonce, was performing at NYC’s Pace Gallery this past week. He posted on twitter that he will be delivering 6 pieces of art following the release of his new album and this was his first. The initial coverage I saw of the event seemed to indicate it had some relation to performance artist Marina Abramović. Apparently Jay-Z was presenting his own take on Abramović’s piece she did at the the Museum of Modern Art, where she sat for 750 hours in stillness while visitors viewed her. At Pace Gallery Jay-Z was rapping his new song “Picasso Baby” for six hours in front various art world and hipster VIPs. With Mr. Z’s new album coming out, he was using this time to shoot his video for the latest single, directed by Mark Romanek. Having worked on many music videos, a 6 hour shoot is nothing compare to the usual 12+hour days of a video shoot…that’s a lucky production crew.

It bugs me that Jay-Z is using Marina Abramović as an access point into the art world. When the contemporary art world succumbs to the glitz of celebrity I find it disappointing. I’m glad for Pace Gallery to get a lot of coverage and maybe some sales, but it all appears to be a silly publicity stunt. Jay-Z is obviously a smart man and an great opportunist. He is super successful. Is he taking “art” and making it accessible to his audience? Kinda. I think what he’s doing is replacing the Gucci-Prada-Louis Vuitton element, which is so prevalent in rap… which is the element that gives rappers the sense of being rich and sophisticated, and is replacing it with big art names. Before the fashion brands were the signifying status symbols, it was expensive drinks like Cristal and Courvoisier to show clout and cultivation. In his new song “Picasso Baby” he raps the names of Picasso, Rothko, Warhol, Koons, Condo, Bacon, DaVinci and Basquiat. Well it seems he took an art history class. He’s using very well known/text book names in art and I guess to the common man it would seem very cultured to know them. It would be different and maybe more interesting if he rapped about Lari Pittman and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
Ok, maybe he’s not quite ruining contemporary art. It makes me laugh at Jay-Z and Pace Gallery for trying so hard – and yes I can laugh at myself for taking art so seriously sometimes. It’s good that he’s bringing awareness of art to a new audience, but it still bugs me a little because I’m an art snob.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/07/jay-z-marina-abramovic-pace-gallery-picasso-baby.html

Jay-Z & Marina