Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marina Abramovic;Jose Carlos Somoza

Marina Abramovic, the 63 year-old Serbian born performance artist, who has been at the vanguard of this form of conceptual art,will have the first MOMA retrospective dedicated to a single performance artist, commencing March 14.
Abramovic, who was born the daughter of two war heroes in Yugoslavia, has been working her magic for 40 years now; her performances often in various states of undress, have varied from a 6 hour session in Naples-"Rhythm 0", in which she placed 72 objects upon a table in a Naples art gallery, including a gun loaded with one bullet, an axe and a knife, and stated she would resist nothing. This performance reprised and extended Yoko Ono's in 1964 when as a member of the avant- garde group Fluxus, she let others cut away her clothes.It ended ,miraculously, with the artist safe but witha lot of gray hairs, and after a close call when one person put the gun in her hand and tried to manipulate her fingers.
Abramovic had a partner Ulay(Uwe Laysiepen) for many years and to whom she appeared at times to be a karmic and Tantric twin. They ended their professional and personal relationship in 1988 by each starting a solitary walk at opposite ends of the Great Wall in China and months later meeting in the middle.

Abramovic, represented in NY by the Sean Kelly Gallery, where she has perfomed in recent years, also did a show at the Guggenheim In November 2005, reprising seven famous works of herself and others over a two week period.
It was entitled 7 Easy Pieces, and was mind blowung, to put it mildly.
Two new books are being published in connection with the show at MOMA to add to the already extensive oeuvre on Ms Abramovic- a biography of her by James Westcott, who was allowed access to her archives ,and the MOMA book, The Artist is Present, a wonderful series of essays , photos of performances, and descriptions by Abramovic, accompanied by an audio CD by the artist.
Marina Abramovic is an amazing artist of iron discipline and questing intelligence, Questioned about whether, in the aftermath of her divorce from her third husband, she would remarry, she replied, in a NYT piece this week, no never--my life is my life's work "I am too much woman for one man."

Abramovic will be present each day for the MOMA show seated at a table at which presumably members of the audience may wish to sit across from her for periods of time. Both the books and the MOMA exhibition are highly recommended,it goes without saying.

On a related subject, Jose Carlos Somoza is a Cuban born resident of Spain and a psychiatrist. He has written several mystery novels, two of which, including the Athenian Murders , have been punlished here.
His book "The Art of Murder", however, published in English only in the UK, is an astounding meditation on art and life. It concerns a form of art he calls hyperdramatism,in which actual human beings are the artworks themselves, and are painted and installed in galleries and in the homes of owners. They receive very high pay for a life of controlled non-movement that seems at first blush to be a variant of salvery. There are also those human ornaments, those who serve as food trays or lamps, sometimes illegally, and debauched affairs termed "art shocks" where the private guests of the owner and the subject of the painting may interact in a fashion that can be quite depraved if not dangerous.

The book is a decent thriller, but even more so, an exquisite meditation on the role of art and commerce ,if not exploitation, as well as the interface between human values and those of the governing aesthetic, especially where life and death issues are literally involved. What does it matter some would muse if the art survives-and the subject perishes..?

An amazingly provocative read.