Friday, November 11, 2005

Marina Abamovic Performance@Guggenheim Museum

The opening night of the 7-day "performance marathon" by acclaimed artist Marina Abamovic on Nov.9th was a powerful and intense experience for anyone lucky enough to be in attendance in the famed Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. An historic moment in contemporary art began with Ms. Abramovic re-enacting a piece by Bruce Nauman.
To be in the audience in that space felt like witnessing a comet that comes once in a lifetime. time stood still as the power and intense concentration of the artist on stage drew you into the her very breathing so riveting was her focus and energy. There was a hushed aura like being in the eye of a storm: the air was crackling with energy and you could feel the electricity in the room. A heightened awareness was transmitted by the artist to viewer in a way similar to that of a highly skilled musician playing a very difficult piece. The space could not have been more fortuitous to this performance as it allowed the audience to perambulate the circular stage and to also ascend the ramp and orbit the stage and view the performance-in-the-round. The proportionate relationships between Ms. A on the stage and the physical space around her demonstrated another facet of the harmony of spatial relationships that is any signature of Frank Lloyd Wright building, but especially so at the Guggenheim.
The idea that one performance artist can re-create the work of another is being likened to a band covering a song; the intention is to red-interpret the original work not re-create it. This may herald an entire new way avenue of expression in contemporary culture. Think of it: performances of famous pieces by artists could presage a flood of re-interpretations of the entire thirty-plus year canon.
The NY Times coined a wry headline:“Self-Mutilation is the sincerest Form of Flattery”

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