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Jay Z’s “Performance Art Film” to Debut on HBO

by Jillian Steinhauer on July 29, 2013

Earlier this month, Jay Z set up a daylong operation at Pace gallery in Chelsea, where he rapped at members of the art world for six hours. Participants included Lawrence Weiner, Mickalene Thomas, Klaus Biesenbach, and the grandmother of performance art, Marina Abramović, among many others. We jokingly called it the death of performance art, but many people were quick to point out that this was a music video shoot for his recent single “Picasso Baby,” not a durational performance. Hova took breaks. He drank water. He most likely went to the bathroom.

Well, whether or not it counts in the art world’s eyes as performance art, Jay Z wants the wider world to see it as such. “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film,” directed by Mark Romanek, will air this Friday, August 2, at 11 pm Eastern time on HBO — the station being an obvious choice for branding something made in a popular vein (music videos) as high-quality and highbrow. The 30-second trailer is out (above), and if the title wasn’t indication enough, Jay Z offer this statement in voiceover: “Concerts are pretty much performance art,” followed immediately by the words “an unprecedented performance experience” flashing on screen. Ah, “experience” — the arty buzzword to end all buzzwords.

In case you were concerned, yes, Abramović will be featured. In the meantime, we’ll let you think on this:

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