The artist is present, and this time it’s Cate Blanchett. Today brings the first look at the actress’ portrayal of a Marina Abramović-type in the upcoming season of IFC’s Documentary Now!, and it does not disappoint.
In the clip, which also previews the other five episodes that the new season consists of, Blanchett dials up the zany as she puts on a display of a difficult and outrageous artist. In one scene she’s hosing down the mouths of young people with a complete stone face; in another she’s sizing up a miniature replica of an exhibit while complaining, “This is a big deal, I have pain in my uterus.”
While Blanchett doesn’t go by Abramović’s name, she plays a fictional artist named Isabella Barta, who is based on the real-life artist during her Artist Is Present phase. (The infamous exhibition where she sat at the MoMa confronting her audience, without so much as moving or going to the bathroom.) At the time, in 2010, Abramović explained the challenges of that mission, saying, “I eat at certain times because of digestion. I never went to the bathroom. After the second day of the performance, [I realized] it will never happen. I take the last pee at 8 in the morning. In the evening when I sleep, this was really difficult to train. I have to take water every 45 minutes and sleep, and 45 minutes and sleep, because not to dehydrate during the night. But then during the day I didn’t [have to pee]… This piece, I think it’s the most difficult task I’ve ever done.”
Hopefully Blanchett didn’t have to do any method acting for the role. The stakes are a lot lower for the actress, of course. To make her portrayal all the more absurd, she’s joined in the clip by Fred Armisen, who plays art world lightning rod Dimo, who has some specific ideas about how good art is created: “The best art is made while eating a cookie,” he says, echoing Blanchett’s European accent.
The new season of Documentary Now! arrives February 20, which gives you plenty of time to stock up on cookies for the premiere.