Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How Marina Abramovic's Red-Velvet Rope at MoMA Works

Mark Byrne's article on How Marina Abramovic's Red-Velvet Rope at MoMA Works describes the epic wait that guests endure to have a chance at sitting with the artist herself. Apparently by the end of the day, she only really gets to sit with a handful of people, as some sit with her for as long as an hour each. Even so, the people waiting first in line outside the door aren't necessarily the first ones to go. Museum staff, up until the museum's director told the employees that they couldn't take further advantage of the privilege, could get to the front of the line first. Yet even they don't necessarily go first anyhow. If special, VIP guests arrive, they get to skip everyone in line. At one instance to sway the complaints, Abramovic agreed to begin her performance earlier.

What I'm wondering is what could possibly be so prestigious about sitting with Abramovic that people would be willing to wait in eight hour lines to see her? Is the wait itself and the possible interactions that may occur among those waiting in line all part of her piece? Obviously it must have been, because it looks like something one would immediately have trouble overlooking. If she wanted the line to be shorter or to move along faster, she would have set time limits for those that sat with her. Also, what transpires in that space? I'll have to look it up. Is what goes on inside that place any more significant than the journey it takes to get there?

I wouldn't have people wait around to see my work if I could help it. I'm not primarily aimed at making a piece to stir up socialization. I never really had any interest in performance art. I like what is tangible, or what can be seen, smelt, heard, and remembered. I want my pieces to have a presence rather than a moment.

I can see how this relates to the essay on relational aesthetics. Abramovic has control of a very exclusive environment. Those that wait outside are part of the performance just as those on the inside.

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