Marina Abramovich has completed her performance at the Museum of Modern Art. The final day of sitting was Memorial Day, May 31st. Her time with museum goers was limited to 30 minutes for the final day and after discussing the event with friend and MoMA employee Nick, I realized that I also had to be present for the finale. My pace quickened as I approached the museum while furiously following the tweets of art bloggers already inside. They reported on swelling crowds and celebrity sightings (Liv Tyler and I later spotted Antony from Antony & the Johnsons). Noted on the second floor was a sign stating that the performance would end at 5:00 P.M. and museum guards were on standby. I wiggled my way through the crowd hoping to claim a desired seated position near the boarder of the designated area, but alas the crowd was just too dense. I felt bodies pushing and leaning on my own all in hopes of getting a glimpse of the ever present artist who made people cry.

The crowd was a mixed bag sprinkled with MoMA/Marina aficionados like myself, and tourists who may have picked the American holiday in search of Van Gogh. I heard people inquiring on the waxy faced woman sitting in the middle of the 2nd floor atrium. Italian tourists stood closely behind talking about the crowds and commenting on the clothing of sitters.

I shifted my weight, stood on my tip toes and strained for a glimpse. It was then I started to realize the importance and absurdity of the piece. It was so reliant on the sense of public space and viewership both by people who were seeking her out and those who sought “art” in the form of painting, drawing or sculpture. It was then the theatrical performers who were hired/featured on the 6th floor gallery space reperforming Marina’s previous works, emerged also in white to take part in the final moments.

MoMA/PS1 curator Klaus Biesenbach (who I just learned is a young 42!) was the final sitter and the crowd pulsed with excitement as it neared 5 o’clock. I tweeted asking @Museumnerd if Klaus was crying, I was too far to see his face and wondered about the dynamic between artist/curator in the final moments of a successful exhibition.

5:00 P.M.-Clapping erupted from a now standing crowd that moved in waves of one collective sigh and admiration for the previously blue clad, now in white Marina who stood hugging those around her before walking the inner circle of the crowd thanking people.

In an emotional closing after a total a performance equaling over 700+ hours of sitting, I couldn’t help but think of Gandalf the Grey emerging as Gandalf the White and the return of Christ after crucifixion. I thought of a friend who recently referred to Marina as narcissistic and self serving, and found myself both excited and jaded by the end of her performance. Was it the strange audience who blocked my view, that is; my connection between artist and sitter, or was I responding to the theatricality, the white costuming and the weight the non-color carries within a religious realm. *Edit: Maybe its all about the Mythology of the self and having the rare opportunity to create the tension of mythology while still living..*

Either way, The Artist is Present and Was Present and has made her mark even that much deeper in the timeline of contemporary performance. For that both myself, the artworld and those who were present if only for a brief stay in New York, raised our voices, clapped our hands and saluted her grand effort in reminder that sometimes being present is all that really matters.

More soon!
— Posted from my iPhone