the countdown begins
so i did not sit with marina today;
short story: i was in line twice (for maybe 3 hours total) but each time, someone was having a marathon session and today my real intent was to be able to leisurely wander the exhibition without having to navigate the crowds that i anticipate once the show actually opens
long story: i had an opportunity to really look at my relationship to this project and its relationship to my work… but that’s for another post perhaps.
today’s post is more about my initial reactions (today’s & yesterday) to the exhibition itself which consists of video/photographic/written documentation of marina’s work as well as a number of tableau’s both living and still. since photo is not allowed, i’ll illustrate with some performance shots which should convey the tone of my day.
on walking into the exhibit yesterday, i was taken aback by the intensity of sound emanating from the various videos in the room. it took reading the explanations of her early, early work (where sound was the pivotal component) to put this assault in context. this audio experience was an interesting contrast to my favorite piece (stain boy’s house) in the tim burton show (which i had just seen the day before) which relies totally on the color of light.
the next thing that really struck me was that there was a museum guard stationed quite close to the doorway where 2 women (a strange choice considering one intention of this piece) stood, taking part in one of the most famous live pieces in the show (Imponderabilia*). the guard was also a woman and all three were pretty much staring, impassively straight ahead and all three were working, but one (the guard) was clothed & black and two (the performers) were naked & white. this contrast raised more questions for me than actually negotiating the doorway. today the performers were a man & a woman (and the guard was male, same racial balance) and i wasn’t as struck by this (possibly because i was anticipating it), but the piece did feel more effective due to the male/female choice and by the fact that this couple stood closer together, creating a narrower passage way and thereby more accurately recreating the original piece.
*where ulay & marina stood naked, face to face in an entrance way causing people to squeeze between them sideways and to chose whom they would face.
as i walked through the exhibit, i realized that i was going to have to come back many times not only to really absorb everything, some of the videos are hours long (and no i don’t have to experience every last minute) but also to fully evaluate how i feel about the surrogate performers. my initial impression is that without marina’s inherent charisma, these reenactments fall a bit flat and without reinterpretation on the part of the performers (which was critical to the success of marina’s Seven Easy Pieces) they also feel a bit more like theatre than performance art (i believe it was chris burden who articulated this distinction when asked to comment on the idea of recreating past work)
one last thing from yesterday: it was almost unnerving to encounter the set/video/reading (of the descriptive text) from The House With The Ocean View and the videos from Seven Easy Pieces each performances where i spent a considerable portion of time (especially knowing that if i watched long enough i would see myself 5 years ago at the guggenheim)
today, the exhibition totally overwhelmed me and i was close to tears most of the time. however one responds to marina’s work, it is hard not to feel the abuse inherent in the majority of the pieces and today i found that difficult to experience… i do wonder, if i HAD sat with her, if i had begun with that grounding, if i would have been as sensitive? at any rate, it was clear that i was not going to be able to spend the amount of time in those rooms as i had originally planned
one wonderful thing i witnessed today was the “changing of the guard” for 2 of the live pieces, though this did enforce the “theatrical” quality it also gave a bit of humanness to the exhibition; humanness & vulnerability which are both important aspects of marina’s work
after what i believe was a 2+ hour sitting with one woman: she gives so much
the 2nd line that i left (the first is the top image) i truly felt, given the commitment of the current sitter (below), the intensity of this next person waiting (above) and the interest of the other 5 or so people ahead of me, that it was likely the museum would close before my turn came.
still, the actual beauty of this very spare environment is hard to leave