Praise For An Artist Who Does Nothing

In the huge center area at MoMA sitting in a cordoned off area at Marina Abramovic’s feet was a well behaved gaggle of earnest and intent art lover type folks. There she is, they say, pointing and with hushed whispers. That’s really her, the artist sitting in a chair and in a robe, good posture not even.  She is the art.  What she does here is lean forward a little and look at you in a creepy stare down kids game. I have to admit I don’t find this interesting. Yet. But there is something great about the idea of not doing anything. I have tried it at home ever since I was young and although I try it a lot now, it just seems to get everyone in the house very angry.

Watch out though because this concept might take hold.  A lot of artists are now free to just sit and stare. What a nice change for them. No more of that time consuming learning how to draw stuff and trying to figure out all that color, shape and other difficult painting type stuff.  So last year.

Artists are the trendsetters of Popular culture so maybe others will follow. In fact, maybe this idea will carry over to all creatives such as dancers, playwrights, although I guess Beckett was already there and musicians (ok, John Cage kind of beat us all to this one with the 4’33″ minutes of silent sitting at a piano). But these two artists chickened out and employed prop stuff like a piano or a dead tree on stage. Actors, it’s maybe it’s time to relax now. Perhaps soon on TV a blank stare will greet our blank stares. Then we can all sit and stare at each other. It will quickly crossover to other professions; machinists, real estate agents, doctors, why even school bus drivers will all be practicing their respective professions by not doing them.

How liberating! Finally we can all just stop and go play golf as this culturally challenged group would probably be the very last to “get” it. Kids could still go to school, or would the “sit and do nothing” idea apply to students too?  But they already seem to be doing nothing. Maybe an age appropriate cut off date would have to be imposed, like “Stop that. You can’t do nothing, that’s only for adults”.

This exhibit titled “The artist is present” at MoMA and is far more cerebral and evolved than the conceptual artists we all studied in art school like Martin Kippenberger and Josef Bueys. Looking back now they made the big art mistake of injecting some humility and wit into their art performances. For example Bueys explained the history of art to a dead rabbit. For a few days. Or how about this one? Kippenberger bought a bar in a rough neighborhood, tripled the price of beer, got himself pounded in the parking lot by the local mates, had a photo taken of his bandaged up face and then did a nice painting from the photo.

Yoko Ono, had some wonderful pieces, if you can forgive her for breaking up the Beatles. But she didn’t evolve this far. Her most famous fluxus piece was a stunningly great work (really) where you had to climb a ladder to see a little a note on top of the ladder that said simply; Yes. You were rewarded just for your optimistic outlook by clmbing the ladder and hoping against all hope that the note didn’t say fuck you or something. Legend has it that right then and there, John Lennon fell head over heels for her.

Marina Abramovic does more than nothing as the exhibit continues upstairs. Maybe these were transitional pieces on the art highway to nowhere. There’s a black and white film of her combing her hair. Another of her yelling. Very loud. Then a famous early piece of her wearing nothing and kind of jumping around. Which reminds me of another profession; pole dancers. They would also finally be able to sit and stare and do absolutely nothing like the nude figures in this exhibit. Although these two figures were pretty bland and standoffish. They did not get many dollar tips.

There’s another famous piece showing a big artistic star she hand carved into her stomach with a razor blade. Ouch, Marina Abramovic! I think we can all be glad her art has evolved into just sitting if this is the kind of mischeif she was getting herself into.

So be sure to see the show. Or be truly sophisticated. Don’t go. Do nothing.

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