Marina Abramović in person, as did those thousands of art-loving patrons who visited MoMA from March through May, 2010, to get a little one-on-one eye contact with the artist, during which she and that visitor simply sat across a small table and stared into each other's eyes without any other form of communication. TM, however, had seen one other film about Ms Abramović some years back, and it -- and she -- proved interesting enough that he has never forgotten it. (He has, unfortunately, forgotten the title of the film: According to the IMDB it most probably was Seven Easy Pieces, in which the venue was the Guggenheim Museum.)
MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ THE ARTIST IS PRESENT, director Matthew Akers (shown at left) weaves together the artist's past and present, her earlier works (a moment from which is shown two photos below), her performance partner and (ex-) lover, and mostly the preparation for and performance of the MoMA show. This is quite a challenge but Akers and his crew, together with the artist herself, rise to it and give us a wonderfully inclusive look at how and why Abramović does what she does, what she gets out of this, and finally, what her audience gets from it, too. It's this last part that, for me at least, proved most problematic, even a little annoying, but certainly quite interesting.
James Franco, noted for his own performacne art -- for instance. Golly: Even Fox News, that great upholder of art in our time, gets into the act! Finally, the movie says rather a lot about the audience (and the media) in addition to what it tells us about the artist. Which is probably as it should be. I would hope that Ms Abramović is pleased with how interestingly encompassing the movie has turned out. In that sense, the film is about, as another performance artist once put it, Me and You and Everyone We Know.
HBO Documentary Films and running one hour and 46 minutes -- opens for a two-week run this Wednesday, June 13, in New York City at Film Forum, and on Friday, June 15, in Los Angeles at Landmark's NuArt. Even considering the many art-themed documentaries we've seen of late, I don't think you'll have witnessed anything quite like this one.