Unscheduled nudity and vomiting- visitors react to Abramovic at MoMA


He just ran up to the outer ropes stuck his fingers down his throat and threw up. He then stumbled back and tried to throw up again, but not much came out. The guards grabbed him and kicked him out. Marina didn’t move the whole time

[From Vomit! Nudity! Litter! Marina Abramovic’s Marathon Performance Ends In Chaos]

The Artist is Present has now finished it’s run at MoMA. this piece has been laced with controversy from the beginning and has fascinated the public and the web. what is particularly interesting is the implied permission for audience participation that has led to behavior both interesting, sad and strange. it is extremely sad that some visitors felt the need to grope the nude figures on display, it’s strange that someone voiced his lack of appreciation by vomiting and it’s very interesting that a woman was so moved by the exhibition that she chose to do her pace to face participation in the nude.

…I thought hard about how to thank her—write a letter, make a film and hand it to her when I sat with her? When I landed on the idea of sitting naked across from her, I knew that was it. I could be, for a moment, as vulnerable to her as she constantly makes herself to us.
Alas, when her moment came, and she disrobed, seven security guards quickly made their way over to escort her out of the museum. Decker tells us:
I thought nudity would bring joy, spontaneity! Not TEARS, CHAOS. I honestly thought that the worst that would happen was that I would be asked to put my clothes back on. I still can’t believe I was escorted out of the building by a group of guards and told that if I returned, I would be arrested. In “The Artist is Present,” the audience is a huge part of the work, and by entering that space and following the rules (sit silently, do not bring anything into the space, maintain eye contact, and the unstated one: don’t touch Marina), I expected any audience member could stay as long as he or she was willing to be present.

[From Marina’s Unexpected Nude Speaks Out – Gothamist]

I actually understand her thinking here, it’s the kind of statement I would have been tempted to make as well. sometimes things can only be expressed with nudity. it’s a shame that MoMA didn’t see it that way, perhaps if she had pre-arranged it, it would have been fine. I wonder if it was the act of getting undressed that was the problem rather than the nudity itself. it seems to me nudity is often not remarkable, but the process of moving from clothed to nude creates a sexual context, and the inappropriateness. I do wish that Decker had been allowed to express herself the way she wanted.

This piece keeps reminding me of the buckingham palace guards. and reminds me of how seeing that stoic determination and discipline makes people irrationally want to break it. it’s a need we seem to have. why is that?

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