danto sits with Abramovic


At this point, something striking took place. Marina leaned her head back at a slight angle, and to one side. She fixed her eyes on me without — so it seemed — any longer seeing me. It was as if she had entered another state. I was outside her gaze. Her face took on the translucence of fine porcelain. She was luminous without being incandescent. She had gone into what she had often spoken of as a “performance mode.” For me at least, it was a shamanic trance — her ability to enter such a state is one of her gifts as a performer. It is what enables her to go through the physical ordeals of some of her famous performances. I felt indeed as if this was the essence of performance in her case, often with the added element of physical danger. The question was how long to sit. On the one hand, I thought I could sit there interminably. For a wild moment I thought my physical ailments would fade away, as if I were at Lourdes. I don’t really believe in miracles, but I do believe in courtesy. After 10 minutes I decided that it would have been inconsiderate to take much more time away from the other visitors, who had waited their turns so patiently. I held out my arm as a signal, and someone wheeled me away.

more from Arthur Danto at The Opinionater here.