OUR READER MIKE REACTS IN THE FOLLOWING WAY TO THIS WEEK ‘THE PILL’ ON MARINA ABRAMOVIC AT THE SERPENTINE:
‘Very good to hear you speaking in person (so to speak…). I was trained as an object maker, a sculptor, and performance was often placed in the grab bag of sculpture, even when it was obviously its own creature. I have had an ongoing issue with performance art (is it art? what is art? who cares?) and found that too often performance falls into one of two categories:
A. Self-referential therapy that pays lip service to a universal experience, but is in reality only about the ego of the performer, who thinks they are somehow unique or special in their trauma. If art can help them cope with the world, then this is a good thing, but it’s art therapy not art, as the effect on the public and the society in which it happens is at best secondary.
B. An easy way out for “artists” who strive to create an experience that appears art like and is assisted in this illusion by “curators” and other experts whose job is more in the lines of marketing than assisting with art exhibition (a curator is essentially an assistant to the artist, and if they are more then the artist should be VERY cautious…).
Performance, as you have rightly pointed out, deals with the unexpected, but once the unexpected has occurred, what happens. This is where performance breaks down in my view. It is momentary entertainment, or perhaps it’s a momentary release of emotion. Where is the deeper and extended dialog that explores the issues of why the emotion is contained, why there is a need for release in our society, why is there even a question of are we humane? Exposing an element of our society is part of what an artist does, but where is the follow through?
Yes, we are disconnected and emotionally stifled. Why and so what? These next and much more important questions are not addressed, but the point of who Abramovich hands out with or what she’s wearing is. The drama of her ex-husband eclipses the experiences of hundreds of other anonymous people. Her story is what matters, not the stories that could be changed through her performance.
A lost opportunity…and “do it” by Obrist or whoever is an insult to any artist who works with sincerity and skill. I am greatly offended by the idea of his nonsensical manual of “curatorially directed self-therapy”. Perhaps artists need to meet with this man and his ilk and “do him” to let him know what real artist do and how they do it…’