Marina Abramovic - The Artist is Present follows Marina through the preparation, planning, and execution of her three month retrospective exhibition at MOMA in 2010.
The documentary offers insights about Abramovic's personal and professional life, such as childhood impacts, romantic partners, and past performances. Mirroring the way The Artist is Present is a retrospective of Marina's artistic career, the film recounts the events of her life during the creation of her famous works. We meet Ulay, her both romantic and artistic partner of 12 years, who shared in the creation and performance of some of her most provocative pieces.
The Artist is Present was not just the title of the exhibition, but also a literal description of the gallery space during the gallery's open hours, where Abramovic executed the heart of the exhibition, a performance running 7 hours a day, 6 days a week, for the entire duration of the exhibition. It consisted of her sitting across an empty chair that would fill with a gallery visitor thousands of times throughout the performance's duration. Each participant receives the intensity of the artist's extremely focused and present gaze, and is unable to do anything other than return it.
This documentary highlights the emotional responses to this performance and exhibition, the support Abramovic receives from her gallerist and assistants, as well as her funny, charismatic, intense, and mysterious personality. We were moved by the powerful perspective Marina Abramovic - The Artist is Present offers and can't recommend it highly enough. We wish we were able to experience Abramovic's performance and exhibition in person, but this documentary is a close second. Watch it on Netflix.