The documentary The Artist is Present follows performance artist Marina Abramovic on her journey to MoMA and her extensive preparation for one of her most curious exhibitions yet. A common reaction to the film and Marina Abramovic’s unconventional work is one of discomfort and confusion. However, people should consider why they personally view Abramovic and her work as so deranging. Do they not like her art because they think it is poor quality and boring, or is it due to the fact that they are challenged in a new and intense way?
I believe it to be the latter of the two. Abramovic’s performances are bold, direct, and raw and there is a realness to them that people are not used to. The coldness and emptiness in her performances forces people to slow down and wait, observe, and ponder. While some might see Abramovic’s work as focusing solely on the emptiness and vacuity of it all, going so far as labelling it depressing or disturbing – something I originally did too – others tend see it as extraordinarily simple. (I now fall into this category myself).
There is something beautiful about the clarity in Abramovic’s work – the blank slate aspect which compels people to pause for a moment and think about anything and everything. Even though Abramovic’s work is not many people’s preferred medium of art, they have a great deal of respect for her.