At Home He's a Tourist


PART I - A HOUSE WITH AN OCEAN VIEW -To write a review of When Marina Abramovic Dies A Biography by James Wescott, I sat at a kitchen table for an entire morning focusing solely on reading the book. I was in a kitchen on Long Island in a house with an ocean view. Really! For breakfast I had a bagel and two coffees. I sat at the table and concentrated solely on the book. I fought to push thoughts of my obesity and my aversion to sunlight out of my mind. I ignored the other people in the kitchen as they came through for a snack or a cold drink. I read about half of Part One, Yugoslavia 1946-1975. I told a break at lunch and had a turkey sandwich and a diet cole. For my afternoon reading I settled into the couch in the living room. My head and feet were propped slightly on throw pillows. I tried to ignore the passing from afternoon into evening evident through the skylight and picture window and give my undivided attention to the book. Night fell and I stopped reading upon finishing Part One, Yugoslavia 1946-1975. I thought to myself "Strong, committed woman who has energy to connect with burgeoning European performance art scene and become a beacon for this scene as it expanded outside of Europe, overcoming her childhood rife with trauma, or poor little rich girl whose Mom was a Minister of Culture in Yugoslavia". Actually I think both were true and this contradiction or complexity really forecasted the emotional struggle of her early performances and her performances which are laden with performance art contradictions. I tried to focus solely on the trials and tribulations of Marina but the skylight kept reminding me of James Turrel, it's true if you spend a bunch of hours under a skylight you can really perceive the change of light and sky.


In an upstairs bedroom reading Ulay and Marina, with no television, with am-fm clock radio. The clock radio was digital. I wish I had my camera so I could photograph it. I learned about the European performance art scene in Europe in the 1970's - 1980's. Bueys of course was the Shaman. Ulay and Marina made up great performances about duration, endurance, and form. Their work was intense and exciting. I felt bad because they kind of felt inferior to the American Post Minimalists and Performance Artists because sometimes Ulan and Marina would use ideas that had already been done in N.Y. or L.A. I think that that's not true because just because someone already created a vocabulary doesn't mean you can't be creative and really when you look at it today who's work informs Steve McQueen's, Matt Barney's, and Cornhole Connection's more? Ulay/Abramovic or Morris/Rainer. Although I do understand that inferior feeling, growing up on Long Island, in the shadow of New York City has sometimes made me feel somewhat behind the curve.

Marina and Ulay and the European art scene reminded me of the American indie-rock underground. They were broke, living out of a van, and traveling all over Europe to do performances at alternative art spaces and colleges. Get in the van. Black Flag starved Abramovic/Ulay fasted. Speaking of alternative, for Part III of this blog, to be continued next week; reading alternative chapters from James Wescott's When Marina Abramovic Dies and Peter Blecha's Sonic Boom as we follow Marina and grunge from the gutter of the indie underground to world domination.