Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

Director: Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 2.5

Nice - if padded - overview of the artistic life of Serbian performance artist/professional liar Marina Abramović, culminating in her most important work to date, The Artist Is Present, in which she sat in a chair in the Museum of Modern Art for three months, inviting 'spectators' to become part of the performance by sitting across from her. Detailing her past performance pieces is nice for the uninitiated - and makes her reunion with former partner Ulay all the more poignant (and awkward) - though I'm sure, despite piling on praise for Abramović and trying to explain her motives, it probably won't convert those who fail to find artistic merit in what she does. I certainly don't think she's 'crazy,' although as her one former lover confesses (quite tellingly, I might add), her entire life is a performance: where the 'truth' of Abramović resides is up to her to know (... if even then). Akers and Dupre manage to capture many of the 'participants' crying when in Marina's presence - the piece (which I was unable to witness in person) has a certain power to it, a directness and nakedness that a painting or video loop cannot necessarily produce in the audience: here, that distance is broken down. The work did, expectedly, bring out a good share of kooks/weirdos (one young lady strips and is immediately escorted away), although this documentary managed to leave out one notable young woman who dressed up exactly like Marina and stayed the entire day, "mirroring" the artist: talk about marvelous subversion.