The documentary feature chronicling Marina Abramovic's career, The Artist is Present, premieres in NYC (13 June) and LA (15 June) this week.
Abramovic, one of the most celebrated performance artists in the world, iuses her body as the vehicle of her artistry. Life is performance, and performance is life, is the central theme that threads all her work together. This documentary follows her as she prepares for the retrospective of her work at New York's MOMA. The question that pervades the film, the question asked, often critically of Abramovic's work, is "Why is this art?"
It is a question that Abramovic problematizes and directly challenges in all of her performances.
"'Marina is never not performing,'" says her friend and MOMA curator Klaus Biesenbach. She is constantly thinking about the trajectory of her career; "in a strategy meeting, she sets the stakes for what lies ahead: at 63, she has lost patience with being a fringe artist. What she wants now is for performance art to be legitimated. She is thinking of her legacy.... It is one thing to be 'alternative' when you are 20 or 30 or 40, she says to the camera. 'But excuse me, I'm 63! I don't want to be alternative anymore!'"
This concern, I think, is one voiced by almost every female artist—visual, performance, literary, or otherwise—that I know.
How can one make space, a place for herself and her work in the world?