Read: I'm Afraid of Performances
I went to see Marina Abramović The Cleaner exhibition at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Now I came to a cafe as my phone battery is dead and my onwards train ticket is only accessible through my phone. For your information, there is nowhere (at least visibly) in MoMu where you can charge your phone.
I drink my soya mocha and write this while there is huge man next to me who I like to think is working nearby Operahouse as an opera singer, he is looking his music sheets.
I feel like a real blogger now, somehow I have an image that all the blog posts are written in cafes or in beds. I won’t be taking laptop to the bed!
I was excited to go to the exhibition as I found out that someone I know and haven’t seen long time, would be there reperforming one of the pieces. I was nervous how would I look at the performance, thinking what kind of difference would it make that the performer would be someone whom I knew. Can I see through my expectations I have put on my friend and concentrate on the performance like the person next to me. I don’t know if it matters. I was concerned am I a good audience, do I let the artist show me something. Then questions like what does it mean to be good audience, started to pop into my mind and why I think I know what the performer is expecting from me or even why I expect that she is expecting something from me.
I didn’t find out the answers, at least with that performance.
I never saw the performance. I didn’t know that she is not there for the whole day, but only for certain times. When I had experienced everything else at the exhibition, there was still long time until the performance would start and I was already full. My head was full of art like stomach full of food. Like after you have eaten enough of your favourite food, but take one more mouthful and you try not to regret it as your stomach starts to hurt. My head was that kind of full - full of art. So I had to leave, I didn’t want that regretting part in my day. I had eaten enough.
Performance art happens in time. I didn’t give it my time. I can’t say until next time, as it is gone.
Also, I was bit afraid, as I’m always when I see someone I haven’t seen a long time. I’m also afraid of performances. Especially the kind of that involve my actions and physical presence part of the piece, more than just sitting on the chair. There is nowhere to hide, but in myself. I feel forced as I'm not ready to show that I’m uncomfortable, and then I act what I think is expected. I feel like lying. I don’t feel liberated. Similarly, like I love swimming, but don’t like jumping in the water as I don’t enjoy the free fall, it locks me down, opposite the meaning of the word free in that expression.
Me and Marina
I take a liberation to talk about us like she would be my friend. I know her very little even as an artist. She is older than my mother, but I feel like we would be same generation. I recognize me in her, and then not at all. I recognize the Slavic and communism in her art. In my photo album there are similar b&w photos of my mother, like in her childhood about her. Images and symbols are familiar. She is very similar to someone who I knew well, in her presence and looks. This person also made art as life, but without knowing it. She didn’t have a higher education and died young. But the charisma and looks is surprisingly similar and after todays exhibition experience I feel like I have put her to live on in Marina.
Marina had a dog Alba 1977-1992. There was this picture in her Private Archaeology, where artist has collected things that inspire her.
We both are constantly on the road, like in her and Ulays Art Vital, but I can sign with full heart only the two first ones. No fixed living place. Permanent movement.
My English language skills come and go depending on how many languages I have to process through my brain, but I don’t bother myself too much with it as long as I can make myself understandable. I don’t know if she cares about her grammar.
”They art is not art is a part of general ritualistic complex. They use it as a tool. Only in a disconnected society like aurs, the western society, art is called art, not a part of the whole system.”
I love her performances where there is 2 or 4 people looking at each other or are connected some other simple way, there is this tension between the performers. It’s very exciting. Overcoming self and being present is rare nowadays.
I love piece called Lovers, where they, Marina and her lover and partner Ulay, walked the Great Wall of China, starting each from one end and after 3 months meeting in the middle.
Then went separate ways. I have always tried to act respectful when separating from someone, I think it’s essential. For me this performance celebrates the respect two people can have for each other. It’s not easy, it’s admirable.
These 2 black vases are representing Marina and Ulay, these were made when they finished their partnership. One is shiny, other one matt.
Marina puts herself out there, she experiments with her body. I couldn’t do it, it’s easier for me to put my psyche under pressure and out there for others to see than my body. I (and everybody) represent myself constantly with my body if I go somewhere, there is always my body following to everywhere, I have a feeling that if I break my psyche, I can fix it, but if my body breaks then I’m gone forever. I also know that it is not true, person can’t always fix her/his psyche. I remember from childhood adults telling kids not to hit someone, more often than not to insult someone. I wonder if it is because there is no visible marks usually from mental insult. It’s harder to spot and more complex to explain to a child.
The performance that she describes in the TED talk linked below, is consciously the most trusting art piece I have ever heard of, at least this is how I saw it. I talked to my friend about it and he saw it as giving power to people and that she didn't care whatever they did to her. I don’t think that she wanted to get hurt or die. I think she wanted to trust and she did. Looking at the slides in the MoMu I had to squat down, couldn’t stand, it was so powerful and raw, her trust, no matter what.
At the moment Marina is 71.
She is now working on participation art. Taking herself out of the focus. Maybe to keep her legacy alive after she is gone, that people would realise that what she did, they can do. That in collective effort and being present is the key to accomplish great things.
I see already her impact to, surprisingly, commercial world. There are several commercials about when group of people who don’t know each other are brought to one room, when they have one goal or they are introduced to things that they share with each other, they focus on that and don’t mind about the differences that can bring up conflict.
Thank you, Marina for trusting us.
Here she tells how to drink glass of water in 30 minutes for being present. Meditation isn’t complicated, but its heavy workout.
Here she talks about that when finding something wrong in society, we should focus on that what is your own contribution to society, how can you change yourself to make it better. As it’s the only thing you can change.