Monday, August 5, 2013

Marina Abramovic's Reddit "Ask me anything"

Reddit showed up well after I'd lost my fascination with crowd forums. I stumbled into this "Ask me anything" thread while researching this month's action on Congressional representatives. (They are home; please call and visit them.)

I read all her responses. The more I read, the more they reflected a profound, non-denominational stillness and wisdom that resonated with what I find in Buddhist meditation practice. It was so inspiring to connect radical performance art with my spiritual journey of the past five years.
poiein: You said that “The hardest thing is to do something which is close to nothing, because it’s demanding all of you.” What is the closest thing to nothing you have ever done?
Abramovic: Completely surrendering to my migraine attack when I could not move or open my eyes, just let pain take over. 
I continue to believe my experience in the sadism/masochism community gave me initial access to so much that I value: courage, trust in myself, willingness to use the control I have, ability to discern control that was mine or not. It was my initial experience of controlled deviation from my own mental habits and conventions. Although I now choose meditation and mindful daily practice with abstinence from BDSM and sexual relationships, I accept those past experiences with pride.
saintdada: Marina, when you are having a bad day what do you tell yourself/ what keeps you going?
Abramovic: I'm not attached to bad day or good day. We always know after the rain the sun will come. It is a law of nature. When it is really, really bad day, I take a long bath full of Kosher salt and baking soda, soak for 30 minutes, and I feel better. 
Classic! We accept that sometimes reality is painful, and practice discernment where it's so painful that we care for ourselves and each other to recover. We have confidence that the pain was real and that recovery is possible because the capacity for wellness remains within each of us, without exception.
zoebokany: Have you ever doubted yourself? 
Abramovic: In my emotional life. Never in my artistic.
walmartsushi: How do you come up with an idea for a performance piece? How do you flesh it out? How do you think about communicating the meaning of a piece? 
Abramovic: I only pick up the ideas who I am afraid of or who are disturbing or who I have never been in that territory before. Ideas who are nice, friendly, or I like them I do not choose because they are too easy. It's very important to create high standards for yourself, no matter what. My ideas come from life not from studio. 
Sometimes I wonder if audiences now expect this spontaneity from performance artists. Sometimes they find it bizarre to encounter common experiences in fine Art context, distorted and keyed up, or, conversely, craft dragged into boring commonness. Our lives are boring and common; art, as part of our living experience, serves an integral role in commonness. Abramovic's work acknowledges the audience's personal role in making the performance. This awareness brings sense to my work.

Scientists pursue a consistent explanation for all observable phenomena; their faith is that the universe is truly of one form. I can't claim artists have any similar unified purpose, but there seems to be a single body of principles that lead some to great work. It's deeply satisfying for me to see masters like Marina Abramovic and John Cage exhibit equanimity and joy in life as well. Whatever one names it, it's a worthwhile pursuit inseparable from worthwhile works of art.

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