Friday, November 11, 2005

my second orgasm

Last night P and I arrived fairly early at the Guggenheim although you couldn't tell since it had been pitch black since about 4 in the afternoon.

But the seductive idea that we would see Marina Abramovic recreate Vit Acconci's 1972 performance piece "Seedbed" was enough to get us out into the brisk (finally feels like) winter night.

The seminal performance artist is performing "Seven Easy Pieces," a different performance piece each night, through Tuesday but this was the one I most wanted to experience. Originally Acconci under a stage masturbating while people walked above and he spoke epithets through a microphone, how would it be interpreted by a female performer for a 21st century artist?

Not that well in fact. We walked into the Gugg's rotunda and immediately heard soft whisperings and saw people queued to walk on top of Abramovic. Or we assumed she was down there. The white, snail-like stage could have been empty but the young girl caressing the boards and boy stomping to get her attention were hoping otherwise.

Something about the piece doesn't translate well. It felt more like bad phone sex than aggressive, in-your-face art. 30+ years of sexual liberation, and internet sleaze, hasn't allowed the piece to age well. And something about a woman masturbating and softly muttering (a more passive act perhaps?) doesn't feel as disturbing as the outward slapslap of a man with his penis.

P was most disappointed by the stage (ah, what an architect) and felt it should have been more tactile, sensuous, perhaps moved and reacted to our walking instead of being so inert and boring. "We should lick the stage," he said. He's always trying to get his students to lick architecture and did get one pretty close to doing it to a Romanesque Spanish church.

It's strange saying we went to see Abramovic, when in reality she was transformed into a big, heavy piece of staging like in some sort of mythic transmutation gone wrong. I guess we went to hear her.

When, after 15 minutes of listening/watching her breath got quicker and she moaned in a high, piercing animal-like wail, it illicted laughs. "She's faking," I said to the woman next to me, who nodded in agreement, although she seemed less sure.

"That was my second orgasm," Abramovic said in her husky, Russian-accented English. And that was just 6 p.m. She had 6 more hours to go. To our delight an artsy girl licked the speaker and left in a rush. A bit anticlimatic really, but a great time to make our exit as well.


At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Justin said...

Too bad that was disappointing. Back in art school, I saw a video of Acconci's original controversial performance. It was hilarious watching people's reactions. Maybe this new chick should've used a loud vibrator. I wish I'd seen it all the same.


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