So, Marina Abramović just got burned by someone she really respects, all because she’s planning to “humiliate” her performers by laying them nude on and under tables where the elite MOCA Gala attendees can gawk at and fondle them tomorrow. Apparently, it reminds people of Passolini’s sexually sadistic torture epic, Salò.

One very upset person who auditioned to be part of Abramović’s shin-ding wrote a letter, complaining directly to the renowned experimental artist/dancer/choreographer Yvonne Rainer:

“The deal is that the artists/dancers she will hire will spend 3(!) hours under the dining tables of the donor gala with their heads protruding from the tables. They will be sitting on lazy susans under the table and slowly rotating and making eye contact with the donors/diners. f course we were warned that we will not be able to leave to pee, etc. That the diners may try to feed us, give us drinks, fondle us under the table, etc but will be warned not to. Whatever happens, we are to remain in performance mode and unaffected. What the fuck?!”

For the 15 hour, two day performance, the artists will be paid $150 plus a one year MOCA membership to be played with by museum head Jeffrey Deitch and honorable guests Debbie Harry, Larry Gagosian and Dasha Zhukova. Fancy art benefactors will pay $2,500 to $10,000 to attend the Gala and $25,000 to $100,000 per table. There will be heads. There will be nudes hugging skeletons. There will be a party. The comparison is definitely a stretch, but you can see the Salò relation, sans obvious political allegory. Now then, the appalled audition attendant is considering revenge!

“Since I cannot stomach being a turning, severed head while people get drunk in front of me, I am seriously considering taking a naked role and performing an intervention at the gala celebration… sick shit. God, we need a revolution.”

Like the streaker at MoMA’s last day of The Artist Is Present, perhaps? Good luck getting in. But Rainer bit, and responded, condemning the Gala as “grotesque” and “verg[ing] on economic exploitation:”

“Subjecting her performers to public humiliation at the hands of a bunch of frolicking donors is yet another example of the Museum’s callousness and greed and Ms Abramovic’s obliviousness to differences in context and some of the implications of transposing her own powerful performances to the bodies of others.”

Abramović was read the letter aloud, responding:

“Wow. I hope the performance itself will bring some kind of dignity, serenity, and concentration to the normal situation of a gala, and actually change the energy of the space and bring the performance into an everyday life situation. All these accusations, you can’t have them before you actually experience the situation and see how I can change the atmosphere, that’s my main purpose… I really respect Yvonne.”

As in, don’t dog it till you see it. Good point! Indeed! Agreed! But, as much as an Abramović fan girl this blogger has always been, let’s not pretend that just because this is performance art it isn’t simultaneously a bunch of ambitious nude young’uns surrendered to their authority figures, made to perform possibly exhibitionist, humiliating acts (’cause it’s a fucking party) for a few bucks and then, perhaps, have to feel bad about it afterwards… unless they really, really, really, really concentrate. Why bother? I’m sure with a properly-worded open call, ready and willing volunteers would have gladly paid for the experience.