I'm in New York now, a place any arts editor should be half of their life. This silly comparison of LA vs NY in the art world goes through my mind almost every time I'm here. Most of the time I feel Los Angeles is up to par. This time though, I have to say New York beats out Los Angeles. But...most of the artists are from LA! And that can easily change with the rotation of shows next month.
My first stop in the Big Apple:
The stellar show by Marina Abramovic at MoMA was a must see, and I'm glad I must saw. It was funny, horrifying, hard to watch and silly too. When you first enter, there's a big screen (pictured) of her brushing her thick brunette mop on a screen near the top of the ceiling. It's just her upper torso on black-and-white film. You first think, oh, another good-looking dame, doing autobiographical art about her, her, her and lots of her great body nude. She's attractive (natch) and there she is, preening for all to see. But then she starts to brush her hair more and more, harder and harder, swinging her head with the beat of the brush, sweeping her thick luscious mop, from side to side, then in front of her face and back behind. And VERY hard. It looks like it hurts. She moans when she's doing it. It starts to be hard to look at. You think she's going to literally tear her hair out, clumps by clumps. I change my mind about the good-looking exhibitionist artist. I don't want to watch anymore. I can't bear to watch her tear her hair out. I'm not sure she does.
I move to the black-and-white films/videos?, three of them, off to the side. One is her (presumably), where she's wearing a cloth draped over her face like a mask or veil, and she's naked. (note: if she's not naked, I will mention it, otherwise, assume she's naked). And she's sort of dancing and bouncing around. Over and over. Kinda funny. I like that piece. Not sure why. It's fun to see her be-bopping with a mask on and watch her tits bounce up and down. She's slender and small breasted (more on that later). The other one is where she's lying down face up, and we just see her upper torso with her head almost coming off the bottom frame of the film. She's screaming. Screaming at the top of her lungs. It's agonizing. It goes on and on. You can hear it throughout the gallery. It doesn't stop. You try to drown it out—and you sort of can. I liked that part. Like a crying baby. Like the '50s parents that were told to let their child just scream until they go to sleep on their own. I felt like that parent in the '50s. If I make believe it's not happening, I won't hear it.
Then there's the two naked people at the doorway. The two that stand close to each other, and the only way to get by is to squeeze through them. I had heard about this piece. This is an early work that is reenacted by other performers. I wasn't sure I wanted to do it, but then saw someone else do it, so I grabbed my husband and said, "Let's do it. We can't go to this show and say we didn't do it." So we did it. It was no big deal. If I brushed against his dick or her breasts, it was hard to tell. I had too many clothes on. The models were indifferent and wouldn't make eye contact, so really, what was the big deal? I said, "Excuse me," they said nothing.
The next room was a more recent work, where there was a picture of her in a white lab coat surrounded by bloody bones. The bones looked like big cow bones. Then they were piled high around her. Whether they were cast bones or real ones, it was hard to tell. This was okay work. I guess it was heavy, like the other stuff.
Then we went to another room, and we're back to the earlier black-and-white films, which I like a lot. There's a naked guy who runs full force into a rope, like a sling, and is bounced back. He does this over and over. It's funny. We laugh. I ask why does he have to be nude? My husband replies, "Because no one would watch it otherwise." I thought that was a good answer. It's good to take non art people to shows. They actually come up with smarter ways of looking at things. They take things at face value, and I think that's a real honest evaluation of art.
There were other things about this show. Like the piece in the public space, where the artist herself is doing a live performance where she stares at volunteers who sit in a chair facing Abramovic, and they have a stare down. I was perplexed to know which was the real artist the first time I saw it. The two at the table were sort of the same age. One was much better at staring, she didn't blink her eyes once. I was impressed. She had long dark hair, looked to be middle-aged and well-preserved. Turned out is was Abramovic. But she had large breasts. That is something I really want to talk about.
Did this artist have a boob-job? That is completely ridiculous if she did, but with all the documentation of her nude in the '7os, it is most clear that she did indeed get a boob job. That seems to go against everything she purportedly is for. I am most disappointed if this is a reality, and how can it not be? The girl got her boobs done. How lame is that?
If anyone out there knows this to be true, then I need to reassess this artist's work. Is this like Orlan, where she has plastic surgery under the guise of performance art, when really, it's just about vanity and her fear of getting old, and perhaps looking old.