And the winner for best hijacking of Marina Abramović’s “The Artist is Present” piece is Brooklyn performance artist Anya Liftig, who came costumed as Abramović and sat across from her THE WHOLE DAY. Visitors who also wanted some Abramović time were pissed, but the artist herself gave Liftig “a slight smile.”
At the current MoMA retrospective, visitors normally spend a few minutes in silent eye-contact with the “grandmother of performance art.” Liftig’s “Anxiety of Influence” (a reflection on influenced artist ability to make original work) wasn’t overly obnoxious. She wasn’t thrown out like that “The Other Artist is Present” kid who blabbed provocations and proposals at the artist. The guards let Liftig sit there all day. Mirroring Abramović, in silence, Liftig says she lost track of time, meditated on childhood trauma and, by the end, hallucinated Abramović as a baby.
Liftig is proud to be the only notable female performance “interventionist” and is sure that Abramović smiled with approval. I’m sure she wasn’t too upset about it, at least: At a pre-exhibit talk at MoMA, Abramović shared that in a 1977 action “Expanding in Space,” she, delirious from slamming herself into partner Ulay/walls, had almost ran into another “interventionist” with a broken glass bottle. A girl playing dress up/poetic analysis is no biggie after that.
I’m beginning to think that provoking all these silly antics and challanges is part of Marina Abramović’s piece.