Sitting, Staring, and Crying with Marina Abramović at MoMA

There’s some serious artiness going on over at MoMA. Artist Marina Abramović has a new performance called “The Artist is Present” that involves her sitting silently across from museum visitors. The show runs from March 14 to May 31 and, with the exception of a few days, Abramović sits from before the museum opens and continuously through when the museum closes. MoMa also provides a live stream of her performing.

So how does this have anything to do with photography? Photographer Marco Anelli has been creating portraits of the participants for MoMa and uploading them to a MoMA set on Flickr. Below each portrait is also the length of time that person sat in front of Marina. At the time of this writing, there have been 759 fascinating portraits uploaded.

Most people participating sit in front of Abramović for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. One woman sat there for a whopping six and a half hours.

There’s also a good number of people with teary eyes, whether from the stress of sitting and staring, or from being moved emotionally somehow through the performance:

Wikipedia has a description of a previous performance Abramović did with her ex-boyfriend Ulay (who happens to be the man crying above in the upper left hand corner pictured here):

To create this “Death self,” the two performers devised a piece in which they connected their mouths and took in each other’s exhaled breaths until they had used up all of the available oxygen. Seventeen minutes after the beginning of the performance they both fell to the floor unconscious, their lungs having filled with carbon dioxide. This personal piece explored the idea of an individual’s ability to absorb the life of another person, exchanging and destroying it.


For more on this performance, check out Jason Kottke’s coverage in which he documents interesting happenings (including an appearance by Lou Reed).

(via Laughing Squid)

Image credit: Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present, 2010 by 16 Miles of String

  • Ranger 9

    MoMA is supported by public funds (and moreso by tax-advantaged donations from wealthy art lovers) so maybe they're crying over the fact that their tax dollars are helping to pay a woman to sit in a chair. I sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day, but nobody seems to think it's art.

    Still, at least this “performance” is less overtly suicidal than many of her previous attention-getting activities. Beats having to get a regular job, I guess…

  • Michael Zhang

    Yeah I've been doing this performance for a while too :-)

  • QuBe

    I think the expression on the faces of the people on the flickr pages speaks for itself.

  • antovimalratharaj

    He he he he .. I couldnt stop reacting to those photos :D

  • audifax tommy neys

    And here's another perspective of Marina Abramović at MoMA by Joseph O. Holmes, a NY based photographer.

  • NYviewer

    The man you have pictured as Ulay is not Ulay, FYI. Ulay has been present, but he has long grey hair and a beard. The man pictured is one of the many local artists who attend regularly as a way of learning from Abramovic. I don't remember his name, however.

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks for the correction. We've updated the post with a correct link =)

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  • Justin

    I still don't get it. Anyone else afraid of Marina Abramović?