Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present

106 minutes 2012

The title of this documentary refers to a performance piece the noted Serbian artist presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 2011: for three months Abramovic sat still and expressionless during museum hours and made intense eye contact with any patron who'd sit across from her. Before getting into the knotty logistics of the performance, the movie summarizes highlights of Abramovic's four-decade career and touches on her stormy relationship with fellow artist Uwe Laysiepen (aka Ulay). Much of Abramovic's work showcases her ability to endure pain or extreme physical situations (in a mid-70s piece, for instance, she carved a pentagram into her stomach with a razor blade). Directors Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre successfully celebrate her daring, though their portrait borders on hagiography, many on-screen interviews trailing off into vague, hyperbolic praise.

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