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Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present

by Matthew Akers
USA 2012, 106′
Italian premiere
PHOTOGRAPHY: Matthew Akers
EDITING: E. Donna Shepherd
MUSIC: Nathan Halpern
PRODUCERS: Jeff Dupre, Maro Chermayeff
PRODUCTION: Show of Force
“Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present” takes us live to the most recent effort by Marina Abramović, international performance master, who won the Leone d’Oro at the Biennale di Venezia in 1997, and has made time the fulcrum of her art. In the middle of a square of light in the museum’s atrium, for 7 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 3 months, Marina Abramović silently graced whoever felt like sitting before her with her presence, while in the exhibition spaces 30 young performers re-executed several of her historic actions. If the footage of the artist’s face places the viewer directly in the center of the performative situation, the footage shot during the long preparation for the show and the workshops with the young artists to whom she entrusted her past works restores several fundamental aspects of her working methods and her own life: the importance of methodical preparation and the rigorous practice of concentration, listening, silence, to prepare oneself physically and mentally to create and experience emotion. Strongly committed to her personal research in the recognition and management of performance art, whether with an historic view, in pieces such as Seven Easy Pieces (2005), or with regard to the future, such as the plans for a Center dedicated to Performance Art. At 63, at the high point of her career “Lady Performance” faces the present with awareness, profundity, irony, allowing certain images and presences to rise to the surface, including Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen), who for 12 years symbiotically shared her artwork and her daily life. The meeting of their gazes, their finding themselves one in front of the other again, at the proper distance after their long separation, becomes one of the film’s most touching moments. The film won the “Panorama Audience Award” at the 62nd International Cinema Festival in Berlin, 2012.