The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose
She watched as the final hours of The Artist is Present passed by, sitter after sitter in a gaze with the woman across the table. Jane felt she had witnessed a thing of inexplicable beauty among humans who had been drawn to this art and had found the reflection of a great mystery. What are we? How should we live?
If this was a dream, then he wanted to know when it would end. Maybe it would end if he went to see Lydia. But it was the one thing he was not allowed to do.
Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.
This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.
How to buy it: Paperback $27.99
When can I get my hands on it: Now!
What am I in for: Pretentious musings on art, unfinished story lines, some really beautiful passages, more crap about art
This book is based on Marina Abramovic who is a performance artist. Her piece “The artist is present” involved her sitting in a chair for 75 days and people sitting across from her. She didn’t move, pee, eat, scratch, nothing. People from all around the world lined up and waited for hours just to get the chance to sit across from Abramovic. Some people cried, others were deeply moved and I was incredibly confused. This whole thing reminded me of the fable about the king who walks around naked and everyone admires his “invisible” clothes that you can only see if you’re great and fabulous and then a child yells “hey he’s naked!” and everyone wakes up and starts laughing and slapping their knees saying “oh look…haha…he is naked!!”. The only difference with “The artist is present” is that there was no child to point out the ridiculousness of this “art” and so, fully functioning adults chose to voluntarily sit opposite a motionless women and rave about how “moving” the experience is. Why are human beings so dumb!!!!????!!! Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m not educated enough to understand “performance art”. To quote Wikipedia:
“[Abramovic’s] work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.”
What the fuck does that even mean? She’s done a bunch of other stuff too. Like masturbate for an audience, provide various utensils for random people to use on her (knife, loaded gun, etc), she cut herself with a star, her and her partner breathed into each others mouths until they passed out from oxygen deprivation. It’s ok if you don’t understand it…it’s ART!!!!! To be more specific, it’s PERFORMANCE ART!!
This book revolved around “The artist is present” and incorporated a few different characters. We get snippets into their lives and some emotional crap about how art and life are connected blah blah yawn yawn. I don’t know this was just a lot of bullshit for me. I don’t think Abramovic is an “artist” and I don’t think any of her work is of value to society. As for the book itself, it was ok. It’s well written, the characters are interesting but their story lines are incomplete. You only gets small segments of their story and then a bunch of “art is great, art is blah blah blah”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discrediting art nor it’s value. I’m just saying that I don’t think Abramovic’s work is art and so a lot of the authors babbling about how great Abramovic is just didn’t do it for me. Rose also consistently tried to connect all the characters problems to Abramovic and her various work. I personally think Abramovic is crazy and attention seeking and whacks the word ART onto everything she does to justify it. The book fell flat in a lot of ways. If we were given less of Abramovic and more of the characters I would have enjoyed it way more because they actually had interesting stories. The writing was also really beautiful at some points. However, I don’t think this was deserving of the Stella prize. If you’re super duper into “performance art” and Abramovic’s work you may enjoy this but for me I just got bored and annoyed.
Final Rating: 3/5