Monday, January 28, 2013

Marina Abramovic- Walking in a Circle Exercise

Time spent: 1 hour, from 11:50 to 12:50 on Monday, January 28th, 2013.

For this exercise I headed to Mayberry Park, to an area down by the river. This has been the most difficult exercise yet for me, for several reasons. If I were to do this exercise again I would venture out further away from civilization...I thought Mayberry Park would be peaceful and quiet, but I could hear the whirring of some kind of machine in a nearby building the entire time, which was distracting. Second of all, multiple people walked by me during the exercise, sometimes more than once, which was not only distracting, but rather awkward (she's still walking in circles??)! I would also increase the size of the circle I walked was too small for the task at hand. In a minute I could walk two and a half laps...multiply that by sixty and you get 150 laps! I had much more difficulty clearing my mind for this exercise; maybe it was all the factors listed above, maybe it was because it's Monday and a whole week of work lies ahead! However, for this exercise I did set an alarm on my phone so I could keep walking without checking it to see how much time had elapsed. Again, an exercise not only in endurance, but resistance. I got pretty irritated at my phone because of this though..I kept glaring at it just waiting for the alarm to sound. Not my favorite exercise, although the resulting sense of accomplishment was rewarding!

Me before starting the exercise...happy, but not for long!

My path after an hour of walking...notice where the dirt is darker!

Marina Abramovic- Mirror Exercise

Time spent: 1 hour, from 10:04 a.m. to 11:04 a.m. on Sunday, January 27, 2013

This exercise was quite difficult to complete, in the sense that it is abnormal/out of the ordinary for most people to sit for an hour motionless—which I believe was the purpose of the exercise: it wasn’t really to look at yourself for an hour but to remain motionless for an hour in order to get in touch with inner reflections…to somehow get out of your thoughts but into your mind simultaneously. I did the exercise first thing after waking up, in a state of refreshment yet also vulnerability, in order to start my day on an atypical note. At first I did the usual things one does in front of the mirror: I evaluated the color of my skin and how it changed when the halogen light bulbs continued to brighten; noticed the sleepiness in my eyes; questioned why to me my nose appears smaller on some days rather than others; noted how the right edge of my mouth lays higher than the left side, and that the white of my right eye appeared brighter that the white of my left;  observed the crease that bisects my neck and the way my hair sprouts from my hairline. After a few minutes though I was not staring at myself exactly, but instead was staring through myself, not really looking at anything at all but simply thinking and being, while remaining motionless—it was like an open-eyed meditation. Again, my yoga practices assisted me in this exercise; I found it easier to remain motionless when I took deep inhales and exhales. Occasionally I closed my eyes and occasionally I adjusted my positioning on the stool I was perched on. As for my thoughts, I thought mostly about the long and short-term tasks I have at hand…the possibility of moving from the house I live in sometime soon, the looming pressure of putting up an exhibition in about a month’s time…etc. If I could have done one thing differently, I would have set an alarm on my phone, because once I had started the exercise, I really had to suppress the temptation to check my phone to see how much time had passed—it was a practice in resistance as well. I checked my phone when about 40 minutes had gone by, which interrupted my concentration and motionlessness, but I still felt a sense of accomplishment for mot checking my phone any sooner than this.

During this exercise, the song I’m Looking Through You by The Beatles became stuck in my head.

Good morning, time to look at yourself!

Marina Abramovic- Slow Motion Exercise

Time spent: 1 hour, from 8:23-9:23 on Thursday January 24, 2013

                For some reason, this was the exercise I was least looking forward to, because often it is difficult for me to slow down my thoughts and actions, especially when I’m so busy...I didn’t think I would be able to complete the exercise.  However, recently I’ve been doing lots of yoga, which is all about slowing down and really taking in the present moment—the practices I have learned through yoga were really helpful for this exercise, like syncing your breath with your movements.  The exercise was not too difficult to complete, and it was beneficial in the sense that I could quiet my mind (for the most part) and focus on the task at hand. When my mind began to wander, I forced myself to work even slower. For this exercise I made sure that the two people I live with would not be home to avoid any distractions. I also thought it would be beneficial to give myself a task to complete, and I decided on making dinner in slow motion. Recipe, thoughts, and responses follow as such:
Slow Motion Minestrone!
Minestrone soup, one of the simplest and quickest dinners to create! But, why spend only half an hour making your masterpiece when you could devote an entire hour to the task?!

Warning: a heightening of tactile sensation occurs when working in slow-motion. Take it in. A heightened sense of taste can be attained when eating slow-motion minestrone, directions listed in step 8 below. A deeper appreciation for your soup should occur after this exercise.

  • 1 large carrot      
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 large yellow onion   
  • Small pasta shells
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans     
  • 1 can black beans  
  • 1 can kidney beans 
  • 2 ½ tsp. Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base                      
  • Pepper to taste                
  • Excessive amounts of dill weed                 
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
 1.   Gather ingredients in slow motion. Begin to boil the water in a large pot on slow-motion heat. Once it’s boiling, slowly add pasta shells. They most likely won’t cook on slow-motion heat after this, so raise the temperature. The boiling bubbles will not be rolling in slow-motion. Don’t let this distract you.

 2. Begin to heat olive oil in separate sauce pan on slow-motion heat. After slowly rinsing the carrot and celery stalks, dice the onion, celery, and carrot in slow-motion. Try syncing the cutting with your breath. Inhale, lift the knife. Exhale, slice the vegetable. Repeat.  If onions make your eyes water in real-motion, they will water in slow-motion as well. Tears do not roll down your cheek in slow-motion however. Slowly add these to the olive oil, and allow them to simmer until the carrots are softish.

3. Begin opening cans of beans and the can of tomatoes with a can opener. If you have a shitty can opener like I do, it won’t perform any better in slow-motion. I got very frustrated at this point, reminding myself once again that I desperately need a better can opener, one that works in slow-motion and real-motion alike. Slowly drain the juice from all the cans, and add the beans and tomatoes to the pasta shells and water, which should undesirably be on the border of over-done by now. Reduce heat to slow-motion heat.
4.   Check the vegetables. They probably aren’t cooking too well on slow-motion heat, so maybe raise the temperature to medium heat.
5. Stir in Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base and inhale the resulting aroma in slow-motion. Oh yeah.
6.   Once the carrot, onion, and celery seem ready but still a little crunchy, add them to the pot with the noodles and beans. Keep everything warm on slow-motion heat. Add pepper to taste. Dill weed is still delicious in slow-motion, so slowly shake in as much as your taste buds desire. Inhale, lift the spice bottle. Exhale, shake it in.

  7. Turn off the heat and slowly gather a bowl and a slow-motion soup spoon. Serve it up, with parmesan cheese on top.
8.  My grandfather, when he was still living, used to eat in slow-motion with his eyes closed, analyzing every taste and texture with tongue sensations in full force. I used to think this to be just about the oddest thing in the world. But for slow-motion minestrone, this practice is required. Close your eyes when you eat, chew slowly, and see how much the sensation of taste is elevated. It’s pretty incredible and surprisingly rewarding, after you’ve worked so hard trying to maintain slow-motion. Closing your eyes will also relieve the ongoing burning sensation from that damn onion.

9. Cleaning up in slow motion would be a pain in the ass. If your hour exercise is up by now, you can stop moving in slow motion, that is, unless you want to clean in slow-motion.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Marina Abramovic's work is confrontational, compelling, powerful, and often uncomfortable to bear at times, but she is incredible at what she does. She is confidently seductive and her body is her medium; with it she puts herself to test after test, challenging what exactly it means/requires to make performance art.

This film was an appropriate (though slightly intimidating) introduction for our class, and I am half dreading/half looking forward to completing the assigned exercises, and I appreciate the fact that these exercises were devised and required by Marina at her workshop presented in the film. As for her performance, The Artist is Present, for me, one of the most vital (and most mysterious) things about the piece were the moments in between sitters, where she would bow her head and meditatively close her eyes in preparation for the next sitter...I would like to know the variety of things she was thinking or feeling in those transitory seconds. It is also beautiful how she treated each sitter with equally compassionate attention.  However, the piece was not about her, although it could easily be perceived that way, especially because it was the main piece in the retrospective show about her life and performances up until that point. Instead, the piece was about the sitters, at Marina's tolling expense...her part in the performance is undoubtedly something very few people could accomplish. Although we only saw a recording of the performance and were not able to personally participate in the performance, it was obvious that the sitters were able to gaze upon themselves through the action of sharing a gaze with Marina--she mentions this in the film--and this, in addition to the longevity of the piece and her persistence to complete the piece, is what elevates the performance to a really respectable level.

Questions I had after the movie: It seems particular to have a retrospective of performance art, art that in its very nature is ephemeral and temporal. How does the context change when other people are enacting the performances originally done by Marina? What does it mean to re-perform and re-visit performances that already had an established time and place?

After we watched the film I found this article online about her retrospective show at MoMA in New York, pretty interesting: