28.7.12

Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present - Review


One of the great things about subscribing to MovieclipsCOMINGSOON (or any other equally irritating variation) on youtube is you find random gems like this one, saving you from shuffling through film blogs, news or – god forbid – talking to fellow filmsters.

'Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present' isn’t just a breath taking title, but the phrase works when talking about the film too, as well as when discussing the woman herself. The documentary film follows Abramovic during her most revolutionary art-show to date, The Artist is Present, in New York’s famed Museum of Modern Art. The show consists of a collection of her infamous pieces of performance art, either acted out by her newly trained artists or projected onto a wall. Pieces like; cutting a pentagram onto her stomach on stage, repeatedly running full speed into a wall/man or just doing household tasks could all easily fill a feature length film each, but the topic of this film is her newest work which involves two chairs, a table, Abramovic, any member of the public and a moment that rips peoples emoutional barriers to shreds. They sit there, they look into her eyes, they laugh, they cry, they break down.

Doesn’t sound very entertaining does it? A bit too artsy fartsy for your taste? That’s what I thought too.
I was pleasantly surprised.


The documentary is brilliantly filmed, dodging between famous faces like David Blaine and James Franco along with an extremely intimate (interviews while she's taking a bath, for example) experience with an inspirational character, who bursts out with random nuggets of wisdom whenever she gets a chance. It is pretty well edited and dodges between the 3 month long exhibition with the preparation, along with her history, from birth to chair and all the dramas of artist life.

As great as it all is, the film isn’t very 'public-friendly' and by that I mean you may want/need some sort of interest in art itself to really take it all seriously, rather than just as a freak show. Ironic moustaches, 'pointless' expressionism and highbrow continental Europeans even had some of the audience twice my age giggling.

'But why is this art?'
                        -Marina, 'Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present'

What this feature is also full of is heart. The interviews are boring at parts but they seem to just be basic narration of her life so far and builds up a charming history of the artist which is later used during her performance. For example: when her ex-husband, and fellow performer, Ulay, joins her on the adjacent seat Abramovic's role is reversed as they both break into tears in a truly heart tugging scene. Another in which a little boy takes up the seat later goes off and sheds a tear with his mother who breaks down at the sight of her son experiencing the piece.

You will most likely spend your time with your eyes wide open in an attempt at keeping your salty tears away from your popcorn. While it could easily have been turned into 100minutes of tear jerking, we have instead been kept at bay, leaving us to not only learn about the woman but to experience all of her pieces at once. Which is equally shocking and thought provoking all the same.

Rating ¦¦ 8/10




(first gif I ever made, apologies if it's a bit slow or glicthy)