Tag Archives: MOMA

Matterful Art: Marina Abramovic is Present, Indeed

Start on the sixth floor at MOMA, and enter the fascinating, disturbing and compulsive world of Marina Abramovic.  Decide what to look at first:  her “Freedom” series where she screams until she loses her voice, speaks until she can’t find the words or dances until she collapses of exhaustion; the props used during her most famous “Rhythm” piece where she turned her body into a passive object that would be invaded by 72 different props for six hours; or the photos of her stabbing between her fingers repeatedly with knives.

Notice the nudes standing between the doorway and stare for a while before you decide to go the other way because you have too many bags to squeeze through such a tight space.

Enter the room where she meets Ulay, her collaborator and lover for the next 12 years, and realize you share their mutual birthday.  Think maybe you should amp up your adventurous side, but not quite to the level of Rest Energy below.

Stare at their series of 22 staring matches they did around the world in the least likely of places, from an empty museum in the middle of the night to a dirt pit in a war-torn country.  They went on in this immobile way for hours on end.  A commentator says:  “They’re doing their utmost to do nothing.”

Read about their Great Wall Walk, which was supposed to lead to marriage but instead led to separation.

Continue through the next few rooms where you realize her later solo work was just as bold and possibly even darker, with images of war and blood throughout.  The years did not mellow her.  There’s a naked, heavily breathing woman splayed on a table weighed down by a skeleton.

You’ve seen her age from her 20s to her late 50s.

On the second floor, you share a room with her at 64, live and engaged in ongoing staring matches with random strangers.  A beefy guy gets up after going head-to-head with her for some time, walks away and breathes heavily before he says to his friend, “That was intense.”  You can check out more peaceful, emotional, pensive, dulled and focused contenders here.

You leave MOMA thinking “present” is the most active verb around.

Posted by: Mariela

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Just Did It, Again: Marlene Dumas at MoMA

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Yesterday I found myself at MoMA and drawn back into their Marlene Dumas exhibit. Just over a month ago, I saw the South African-born, Amsterdam based artist’s work for the first time and I can say that it left a mark. Her imagery is dark, honest and always satisfying. Even in her depiction of death, Dumas is successful in her suggestion of the ‘thing’ and in just the right amount–the right amount of paint, the right amount of light and dark, the right amount of thickness, thinness–for each individual painting. Francis Bacon is an obvious influence and like him she knows, even more than him I dare say, when to say when. There is something exquisite in her knowledge of lack. My second visit to her exhibit secured my great appreciation for her work and my friend Helen and I both suckered ourselves into buying the book. Having leafed through it minimally, I already am so glad I did. 

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Posted by: Autumn.