what’s the ordeal?


More recent in what has been named “ordeal art” was the late spring retrospective of Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art; an exhibition titled “The Artist is Present,” and the backdrop to a history-making endurance performance by Abramovic of the same name. For this, the longest performance staged in a museum, the artist sat motionless and silent eight to ten hours a day for nearly three months at the center of MoMA’s atrium. A preceding interview with the New York Observer stated that “Ms. Abramovic . . . expects her new piece to be one of the most physically and mentally punishing pieces she has ever undertaken” [1] — a far more meaningful statement taken in the context of her oeuvre. In 1973, Abramovic gave her first performance, Rhythm 10, which involved stabbing her fingers twenty times. For Rhythm 2, the artist swallowed psychopharmaceuticals to induce seizures and stupor. In 2004, for The House with an Ocean View, she fasted on display for twelve days, housed within three massive squares bolted to the interior of the Sean Kelly Gallery. Although the performances may look like irrational feats of masochism, Abramovic’s work is rooted in ancient religious and philosophic traditions.

more from Amanda Johnson at Curator here.