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Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present

Directed by Matthew Aker

USA, 2012

Cornerhouse, 8 July 2012

Matthew Aker’s documentary casts an efficient eye over the career of the performance artist as she plans and appears in a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

There’s a new work as well, which could be called a silent confessional: someone sits across from Abramović, the two people looking at each other.  Their momentary meeting can be intense, surprisingly so.  An oblong table sits between the two at the start, then it is later removed, despite considerable security concerns.  Another metaphor suggested by this work: it’s as though Abramović takes a reading of the face and soul of the person before her.  Of course, it cuts both ways.

You come away from seeing this tightly-edited documentary with a renewed respect for Marina Abramović and the journey that her art – for it is art, probably, though it’s difficult to say why exactly – has compelled her to take.  It doesn’t feel like a path that’s been entirely chosen.