June 29, 2010

"...I felt allowed to be interested in fashion"

Marina Abramovic keeps regularly entering my field of awareness lately, probably due to publicity surrounding her recent 3 month long performance at MoMA, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.

(You can see portraits of every visitor who sat across from her here, as well as how long they sat. Some cry. Some are cute little kids. I wonder if anyone tried talking? The piece opens up many practical questions, but once you've cleared those up, the really good questions emerge. For the answers to the basics, Marina is forthcoming in this post-performance interview.)

Or maybe she keeps coming to me, and I keep digging for more of what she's given of herself, due to some other metaphysical need of my own. Maybe I'm somehow supposed to know more about this woman, this artist.

Whatever the case may be, there you have it. I'm involved in an online relationship with Marina Abramovic that she knows nothing about. True to form, then, I want to share with you some of her conversation, recorded for the Financial Times, with Mr. Riccardo Tisci. Some of you may be familiar with his work.
Givenchy pre-fall 2010 (in which the religious and ornate is absent)

Onto the discussion. Excerpts from the tender story of their friendship, "I Have Found My Soul Mate," at FT.com.

Riccardo and Marina: friends with complementary beauty

Riccardo Tisci on performance art:
It’s about emotions, which is what I feel everything I do needs to be about; giving and getting emotions...

Marina Abramovic on fashion:
... my mother was obsessed by French culture; everything French was good, and everything else was bad. She took me to the Alliance Fran├žaise at 11 to learn French. So I knew about Givenchy, and Audrey Hepburn and all that. But, at the same time, in the 1970s artists saw fashion as this huge enemy: the only reason you would dress up and have red lips would be to seduce a curator so they would show your work. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris in the late 1980s that I felt allowed to be interested in fashion.
I believe Abramovic touches on something important, the common popular sentiment that can be summed up as "anti-fashion." It has affected many and continues to do so. But what if we bundle up all those criticisms, tie them with some grosgrain ribbon, and set them aside? In that elegantly tied bundle lies the common misapprehension that to be interested in aesthetic things, especially clothing, is to desire them as commodities, and to thus reproduce something nefarious.

Later in the conversation between Abramovic and Tisci, a story is told of a couture gown which Marina makes her own through its destruction. Riccardo is pleased. I am pleased. This image of destroying the sacred (here, a mere fancy dress) calls into question why the object became sacred.

Upon reading this story, I began to think that the problem exposed by the crude anti-fashion stance, and there surely is a problem or two, entered as objects became treasured, collected, valued. Is it necessary to collect, treasure, value, or can our aesthetic expression be ephemeral? I think ephemerality is something Marina Abramovic is considering in her recent work, and which she also refers to as her "third act" in the video below, the phase that ends in death. Yet she is also concerned with leaving something behind, "a good idea."

A good idea, rather than a pile of things. This is the distinction that matters when it comes to fashion as a form of expression, a daily performance of our role.

Short discussion of the exhibition and her "third act"

Celebrating the end of the performance, hosted by Tisci.

"It’s why I chose the dress code for the dinner that Riccardo had to celebrate the end of the piece: black and white and gold. It’s how I live my life, all extremes, plus gold to let the light in."

More here.


Charlotte said...

I love both of their work! Excellent post.

Charlotte xx

The Style Rail

DAT said...

Very good post. I WISH I could have sat down...

Susie said...

thanks you two, for the nice comments.

dave, you have to look at the portraits if you didn't already. you can see info on how long each person sat.

Lorena said...

"A good idea, rather than a pile of things. This is the distinction that matters when it comes to fashion as a form of expression, a daily performance of our role."

I couldn't agree with this more, so true, and important!

I had never heard of Marina Abramovic until 'The Artist is Present' performance began. At first, I wasn't sure what to think of it but looking at the photos of the people who sat across from her was fascinating. It's amazing that an idea that is so simple can bring forth so many questions and stir so many emotions.

This post had shed some new light on her for me and I will need to give myself some time to think about her performance and what it represents.