In a recent article in the Guardian, author Jonathan Safran Foer wrote that “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity”. In today’s video, we see what happens when a performance artist decided to give her audience her complete and undivided attention. We live in such frazzled times that this staggeringly simple idea to give someone your entire focus seems a radical act. Yet it exposes vulnerability, gentleness and the essential solitude of being human.
Marina Abramovich has often been hailed the grandmother of performance art. I saw her at her installation titled 512 hours at the Serpentine gallery some years ago. But by then she had catapulted to superstardom and somehow it seemed too much of a performance and less of an art.
The clip below is from Marina Abramovic’s art installation called ‘The Artist Is Present’ at the MOMA in New York in 2010. For the duration of the installation, Marina sat on a chair and invited her audience, one person at a time to sit across from her and and just looked at them until they decided to get up and walk away.
What you see is below is what happened when her long term collaborator Ulay, from whom she had been estranged for over two decades, came and sat in front of her. And what transpires between them is quite special.