Art, film June 15, 2012 By Sophie Mollart

Marina Abramović & Ulay, Rest Energy in 1980.

Marina Abramović & Ulay, Rest Energy in 1980.

Akers shadowed Abramovic for a year prior to her MoMa show, as she invited a group of carefully selected young performance artists to her home in Upstate New York. “Her goal was to introduce them to some of the concepts that are important in her work – not just where they needed to go physically – it was a psychological, mental boot-camp. Hopefully they could take some of those concepts and keep practising them on their own. She wouldn’t say that the performance, The Artist is Present, took her a year to prepare, she’d say she’d been preparing for it her whole life.”

Initially befuddled by the conflicting personas on display, Akers was determined to explore the authenticity of his polarizing subject. “There’s the myth of the artist, so I’m trying to understand is the myth real or is it fake. For all of these performances, she had documentation, but they were also told mythically – the facts were always a little fuzzy. She would say – oh, there was a gun in Naples – and that somebody held a gun up to her head, but there’s pictures of her holding a gun, so I was like – was this staged, is this a ruse? Did this really happen, because if not I have a responsibility to get to the heart of what the truth is. Seeing her be this playful person and seeing her joke around all the time made me think maybe this all just a ruse.”

Abramovic’s celebrity status in the art world proved a point of contention for many critics, displaying a seemingly dogged ambition to bring the typically marginalized realm of performance art into the mainstream. “Socially she’s just a whirlwind, she’s constantly out, constantly doing interviews, she just doesn’t stop – her energy is

1 2 3 4 5