The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Tuesday, May 22, 2018

W Magazine Looks into Live Nudity at the Museum of Modern Art
Marina Abramović. Nude with Skeleton. 2002-05. Black-and-white photograph. 50 x 80¼" (125 x 145 cm). © 2010 Marina Abramović. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery / (ARS), New York.

By: Julie L. Belcove for W Magazine

NEW YORK, NY.- The human form, disrobed and displayed in all its glory, is arguably the most enduring motif in the history of Western art. Museums dedicated to art both ancient and modern are filled with nudes rendered every which way: painted, chiseled, molded, sketched and photographed. They’re just usually not living and breathing. But come March 14, New York’s Museum of Modern Art will host daily performances of five seminal works by Marina Abramović, three of which feature performers in the altogether. In Imponderabilia (1977), two players stand opposite each other, au naturel, in a narrow doorway. Visitors must brush past them to enter the exhibition—an early, if awkward, example of interactive art.

“This is America!” the Yugoslavian-born Abramović trills jovially in her heavily accented English, on a rainy fall day in New York, as she considers the potentially embarrassing encounter in what will be the first live exhibition of nudes in the museum’s history. “Is going to be riots! I have so many meetings with the security of MoMA and how we’re going to deal with things.”

In all fairness, yes, Americans have a more delicate relationship with nakedness than Europeans, but Abramović acknowledges that when she and her former collaborator and lover, Ulay, performed the piece at a museum in Bologna, Italy, the police showed up six hours into it, asked to see their passports (which they obviously didn’t have on them) and promptly shut down the performance. This time around, regulations mandate that MoMA provide a second route into the exhibition—one with a wider opening to allow for wheelchairs—a measure Abramović finds understandable but disappointing. “I hate that alternative because in the original piece there was no alternative—you go here,” she says, seated in her midtown office as she points to a photograph of Ulay and herself, face-to-face in the passageway, while a man turned slightly sideways tries to negotiate the cramped space. Even so, Abramović has come up with one small tweak: Though the original conceit paired a man and a woman, she now plans to mix up the couples taking turns performing Imponderabilia so that some are same-sex.

At 64, Abramović is the doyenne of performance art, a true believer who has literally risked her life more than once in fealty to her work. Decades after her peers segued exclusively into other—typically more lucrative—art forms, she is still constructing new performances, though she does dabble in other mediums. For the MoMA retrospective, the 36 hired players will rotate every two and a half hours to allow for breaks, while Abramović herself will perform a new work nonstop during museum hours for the duration of the exhibition. That’s seven and a half hours a day, five days a week; 10 hours on Friday. For three months. “The idea is that we are there before the museum opens, and we are there when the museum closes,” she says. “The attitude is the same as toward a painting—the performance is always there. It’s never been done that way for three months, ever, in history.” Her new performance, The Artist Is Present, is technically a solo performance, but it will depend on a multitude of other “players”: Museumgoers will be allowed to take turns sitting with Abramović in the atrium, though she will remain silent (and fully clothed). The concept, she says, is a play on the wording of gallery announcements from a bygone era. “You know in the old days you have this invitation for a painting exhibition, [and it says] ‘The artist will be present at the opening.’”

For Abramović, the performance is inseparable from the audience. “So many artists say they’re not aware of audience. For me is unbelievable,” she says, shaking her long mane of thick, glossy, dark hair that, along with an unusual radiance, helps make her look a good 15 years younger. “I remember Martha Graham said, ‘Wherever a dancer dance is holy ground.’ I say, ‘Wherever audience stand is the holy ground.’ I always want my audience to be touched on the deepest level possible.”

Perhaps more than any other performance artist, Abramović has made her audiences not merely bystanders or even participants but, as Paul Schimmel, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, observes, “actually complicitous.” Her harrowing Rhythm 0 (1974) was a groundbreaking example. Abramović stood passive for six hours as audience members in Naples, Italy, took turns doing whatever they wanted to her. She had laid out 72 objects, including a gun and a bullet, on a table for their use. She still bears a scar on her chest from a knife’s blade—and she shows it off like a battle wound. One man sucked her blood; one pointed the gun at her, though another took it away. “This is the thing,” she says, “you see how the public doesn’t have limits.” Abramović wanted to re-create the work at the Guggenheim Museum in 2005 as part of her “Seven Easy Pieces” show, which reimagined some of her peers’ classic works, but the museum refused out of fear for her safety. “Everybody’s afraid of the people here,” she says.

Her willingness to put her life in jeopardy could logically raise questions about her sanity....

To read the rest of this feature and see all the images, pick up a copy of the January issue, on newsstands December 15.

Museum of Modern Art | W Magazine | Marina Abramovi |

Today's News

December 14, 2009

Sotheby's Sale of Victorian and Edwardian Art Includes 100 Works by Leading Artists

MCA Chicago Announces Exhibition that Examines the Artist's Studio as Subject

Tate Britain Christmas Tree 2009: Weihnachtsbaum by Tacita Dean

Carnegie Museum of Art to Show Tapestries and Prints from the Collection

Unquestioned Protagonist of Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibits in Milan

W Magazine Looks into Live Nudity at the Museum of Modern Art

Franz West Presents Over 40 Works at Museum Ludwig

Major Exhibition for Bernhard Willhelm and Jutta Kraus at Groninger Museum

First Solo Exhibition in New York of Ma Bing at Eli Klein Fine Art

Sculptor William Peers to Make One Sculpture Every Day for One Hundred Days

Exhibitionism: The Art of Display Announced at Courtauld Institute of Art

Tel Aviv Museum of Art Opens Critical Exhibition of Mature Artist Joram Rozov

National Museum of Stettino Opens Exhibition of Works by Tarshito

Alice Anderson's Time Reversal Announced at Riflemaker

Haus der Kunst Announces Exhibition of Sculptural Works and Installations

Museum to Show Recent Acquisition of Extraordinary Collection of Rare Glass Works

Chinese Artists' Collective MadeIn Exhibits at S.M.A.K.

Exhibition Explores the Critical Role Photography Played in Transforming Artifacts into Prized Works

Artist Ken Freeman... A Jewish Cowboy from Chicago

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Related Stories

Moscow Museum of Modern Art opens exhibition of works of art from its collection

SFMOMA announces 2012 SECA Art Award winners

Moscow Museum of Modern Art opens Aidan Salakhova's largest-ever exhibition

First-ever retrospective of Richard Serra's drawings on view at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presents Lunch Break by Sharon Lockhart

Irish Museum of Modern Art announces closure of main building

Major Retrospective of Willem De Kooning Announced at MoMA for September

A New Cultural Landmark Opens in Doha: Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art

Moscow Museum of Modern Art Presents a Solo Exhibition of Works by Andrei Monastyrski

Moscow Museum of Modern Art Presents Cultural Exchange Project: VoTH

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful