Tag Archives: Serpentine Gallery

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

Yoko- Oh No Not Again.. at the Serpentine

4 Jul

People loves them some Yoko (except a few Beatles fans). Her work is so accessible any lay man can enjoy it…no coded imagery, difficult theory, or overindulgent narcissism. Walking into the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park, I was excited to see her work. I’m a fan, but a part of me hates it too. It’s all in admitted jealousy. Its just so simple…why didn’t I think of it. Actually, I feel its a bit too simple sometimes and borders on art school 101. The first piece walking in was WWII helmets hanging upside down from the ceiling with pieces of a cloud puzzle. My eyes rolled. Then on to 3 mounds of dirt labeled “Country 1”, “Country 2”, “Country 3”. Oh dear, the cheese factor was at code red. Ok, I told myself not to be a little judgmental art snob bitch and take the message and accept it as sincere. Then I was able to start enjoying the Yokoness of it all; gentle, honest & even thought provoking. She does create a lot of ease and enjoyment in her uncomplicated approach. My greatest disappointment was her video of John Lennon. Lady, I know he was your husband who got murdered but that was decades ago..why you still holding on? My guess is to bring in visitors & sell some catalogs…it just felt so exploitative. She is also still showing her “cut” video. It is her best work. It’s a performance where the audience cuts pieces of her clothes off until its so painful to watch someone actually get down to her panties and bra and the assholes still keep cutting. But it’s from 1964(or 65), and then she even re-staged it in 2003, and she’s still showing it! Is this gallery show was a mini retrospective and I am just oblivious to it? The piece of the show that is her newest big production is the “Smiles Film”. She says her “ultimate goal” in film-making to to create a film with a smile of every person in the world. Now before you do the eye roll, just think how sweet of a gesture it is to do this. I mean, if she did this in my art school she would be ripped to shreds in critique class; but I think it’s cute. Not all art has to be complicated & super cerebral, so I participated. First there’s a video with Yoko telling you about the project in her little cute hat and glasses….she does have a feeling of having become a caricature of herself. After the video you could sit down and do a snap shot in a make shift booth and then you got a pin to put on your shirt. I opted not to get the pin because it was just getting too cutesy-artsy-fartsy for me. The annoying thing is that I got a number to put into Flickr to download my photo but it doesn’t work. I wanted to post the pic in this blog, instead I’ll post my official Smile-number. I have to give it to the ol’ girl Ono, she packed the house and everyone had a fun time, as did I once I stopped trying to critique everything. Yoko gets a smiling star.

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Cut Piece