Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Studio 360
The World
In the spring of 2010, visitors to New York's Museum of Modern Art could find Marina AbramoviÄ?, the self-described "grandmother of performance art," holding court. She sat silently, all day, every day, for three months. Patrons could take turns sitting across from her for as long as they pleased. She had worked with a trainer and a nutritionist to endure long days of sitting. "If it's comfortable, your mind can just go away. It's not right. You have to be very aware." AbramoviÄ?'s grueling performance was the latest in four decades of grueling performances, and the centerpiece of the first retrospective of her work.  Marina AbramoviÄ?: The Artist is Present featured recreations of other performances, including "Imponderabilia," in which viewers have to squeeze past two performers standing naked in a doorway; and "Luminosity," in which another performer perches on a bicycle seat mounted on the wall. This summer, HBO will revisit that retrospective with a documentary of the same name. MoMA had never staged a retrospective of a performance artist's work before, and since AbramoviÄ? is at the center of all of her performances, The Artist is Present created special challenges. AbramoviÄ? hand-picked 36 young performers to recreate five of her pieces for the show. "Performance is a living art form," AbramoviÄ? says. "If it's not re-performed, it's going to die." (Originally aired: April 2, 2010)