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Marina Abramović

The Artist is Present

Director • Matthew Akers & Jeff Dupre

Country • USA

Year • 2012

Duration • 106 min

Rating • MA

“For most masterpieces people stand in front of it for thirty seconds. Mona Lisa: thirty seconds. But people come and sit here all day.” – Art critic Arthur Danto

Seductive, fearless, and outrageous, Marina Abramović has been redefining what art is for nearly forty years.  Using her own body as a vehicle, pushing herself beyond her physical and mental limits, she creates performances that challenge, shock, and move. This documentary follows the Serbian performance artist as she prepares for a retrospective  and the presentation of her 2010 work at MoMA in New York: The Artist is Present

In this work Marina sits in the museum’s atrium, gazing straight into the eyes of whoever sits down in front of her. She does this seven hours a day, every day for three months. 1,565 sit with her. 750,000 come to watch. She gives each sitter her absolute attention, using the audience, as MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach says, “like air to breathe.”  More than any of her previous works The Artist is Present had the power to fulfil Abramović’s own dictum about long-durational work, where ‘performance becomes life itself’, and life becomes art.


Video art in the cinema. Presented in collaboration with Channels — The Australian Video Art Festival, happening 18–21 September 2013.


This week we feature three video pieces: Sydney-based collabrative Brown Council‘s Work in Progress: Dawn to Dusk, Melbourne artist Hannah Raisin‘s Synchronised Sand and Absentee, a piece by choreographer and performer Atlanta Eke that has been commissioned specifically for the Marina Abramović sessions.

“Picasso pushed the limits of pictorial representation. Abramović does the same thing for comfort zones.”

–The New York Times Style Magazine

“People don’t understand that the hardest thing is to actually do something which is close to nothing. It’s demanding all of you, because there is no story any more to tell, there is no objects to hide behind.”

–Marina Abramović