Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Holding the line

If you want to see a concise demonstration of what a great curator does, try to catch the documentary Marina Abramovic: The artist is present. In this instance the ‘curation’ came from her dealer Sean Kelly. 

As Abramovic works toward her MoMA performance (90 days sitting in front of visitors to the museum) she meets the magician David Blaine. He proposes a wild and spectacularly gruesome ending to her performance involving his illusionist skills. Abramovic is clearly excited and tells Kelly that she's going with it. Now Marina Abramovic is not a person to be trifled with but Kelly doesn’t hesitate. “I think it is a terrible idea,” he tells her. She looks up sharply. Kelly goes on to explain that Blaine’s idea is about illusion and that she is completely about reality and that he will do everything in his power to stop her going ahead with it. “You’re right,” she says. 

As a sidebar, Wystan Curnow reminded us that Marina Abramovic and Ulay made a performance in Christchurch in 1981. They'd been invited by Andrew Drummond to take part in ANZART. The performance started at 4pm and went through to around 8pm. 

“It’s a piece that’s almost unknown,” Abramovic recalls in an interview on orneryworld.film.com. “It was a work called Witnessing. Ulay was sitting on the floor and I was standing and pointing one finger in his direction. The natural light was becoming darker over the four hours of the piece. My feet were on a pedestal and they had to lift me down because I was completely cramped. It was a very strange piece.” 

Image: The 1977Abramovic Ulay work Imponderabilia as recreated at Sean Kelly’s booth at Art Basel this year. Kelly is seen in his tux experiencing the work. (you can watch a film clip of the original version here).