This is a documentary which you cannot miss. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (2012) gives an insight into the legendary performance artist’s infamous piece which she performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Abramovic sat in immobile silence every day for three months, 736 hours in total, opposite museum visitors who often waited in line for hours (or, days) for the opportunity. In this piece she engages them with the simple act of eye contact. The film also explores the set-up of her exhibition at MoMA, which recreated some of her most famous performance art pieces.
The film explores the journey of creating art. It shows that art can involve a lot of work, and a lot of pain – both physical and emotional. The film shows Marina Abramovic’s works at MoMA, and also delves into her early life and performance work; as well as her tumultuous relationship with fellow artist, Ulay. The totality of her experience is used as a resource in this piece at MoMA, and the toll it takes on her is extraordinary to see. The film’s aesthetic is very clean and honest – showing clearly the difficulties that can exist when your work is based on the extremes of human experience.
After the film ended, I was entranced with Marina. Like those who sat opposite her, I had spent time in her presence and wanted to know more. While the film does not necessarily go as ‘deep’ as it could have (for example, I would have loved to know more about her childhood and the impact that it had on her artistic perspective), this was a bewitching documentary that was engaging at all times.
Watch the trailer here.