- Art & Design
Marina Abramović: The Curator is Present/ The Artist is Absent
Everyone knows that a picture’s worth a thousand words, but legendary artist Marina Abramović needed only 20 words to create an intimate, knowing and hilarious portrait of curator extraordinaire Hans Ulrich Obrist. The work is shown here in a W Online exclusive.
The portrait happened literally by chance. Abramović was scheduled to perform at last weekend’s book launch at MoMA PS1 for Obrist’s Interviews, Volume 2 (Charta), the latest installment of his ongoing “infinite conversation” with the leading artistic and intellectual figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Last-minute exigencies, however, kept her away. So Abramović and Klaus Biesenbach, the curator of her recent MOMA retrospective, got together in her studio to record this piece in Obrist’s honor—a sort of video congratulations she could send in her absence. Abramović chose 20 words that best described Obrist. She then looked deep into the camera’s eye and repeated the words at first very slowly and then faster, faster, faster. Thus she built up a nuanced, deeply layered portrait of her friend. The piece, which is also Biesenbach’s directorial debut, had its world premiere Saturday night at the MoMA PS1 event, hosted by Art Book/D.A.P. and the Institute for the 21st Century.
The video's first and last frames, incidentally, show a few words that play on the name of Abramović’s retrospective, “The Artist Is Present,” in order to explain exactly why she made the portrait in the first place: "The Curator Is Present/ The Artist is Absent.”