Early yesterday, New York art critic and blogger Paddy Johnson revealed via tweet that she unlocked what appears to be a secret Foursquare badge related to performance artist Marina Abramović’s solo show at the Museum of Modern Art.
“I waited for hours to participate in her atrium performance of ‘The Artist Is Present’ and checked in right when I sat down in the chair in front of Marina thinking it would be fun to write about — though one of the guards gave me a stern look and chastised me as I left,” the writer of Art Fag City responded to our query about the badge via IM. “When I finished and I was walking out of MoMA I realized that I had a new badge … I’m still in shock.”
For those unfamiliar with Foursquare, the service is a playful location-based social networking website and software for mobile devices. Users “check-in” to sites with the option of leaving tips for friends or broadcasting to their friends where they are. As the New York start-up gains public exposure, the site has been adding numerous partnerships with mainstream brands, including the History Channel and Bravo. While Foursquare has created a badge for those who went to see Banksy’s movie Exit Through the Gift Shop at select theaters, this is believed to be the first art exhibition-related badge.
As a result of the Foursquare bombshell, MoMA officials are preparing for an onslaught of youth who will be willing to wait hours for the rare virtual trophy. Even today, only minutes after Paddy Johnson tweeted about her find, the line to participate in the “The Artist Is Present” quadrupled.
Paul Jackson, a publicist in MoMA’s Department of Communications, explained that the institution is usually prepared for anything, but this revelation has caught staff by surprise. “We knew Marina Abramović was a master of creating new types of performance but we had no idea she would venture out into the virtual realm. We can only assume this was a secret project she didn’t mention to the curators and MoMA officials,” he said.
One 19-year-old NYU student, Raju Subramaniam, said he is willing to wait days to earn the coveted Abramović badge, “I really didn’t care about art until I read about this. I have every badge except this one. I really need it.”
The online world has been aflutter since learning of the secret badge, and already there are rumors that another Foursquare easter egg can be unlocked if you walk between the two nude figures that are part of her work “Imponderabilia” (1977, reenacted in 2010). There is even confirmation of an even rarer badge for those who end up crying in front of the veteran performance artist during their participation in “The Artist Is Present.” Earlier this morning, a screenshot of the never before seen badge made its way via email around the world with a note that explains that it was unlocked by a doctoral student in pop culture studies at the University of Michigan who was in New York for the show.
Questions remain as to how Foursquare classifies “crying” and our phones calls, tweets, and emails to Foursquare offices continue to be unanswered.
Curator Dan Cameron posted a status update on his Facebook page that lauded Abramović for her ability to transform herself. “Marina is a master of the unknown, she leaves me in awe,” he wrote. The item was “liked” by 400 of his 5,004 Facebook friends.
Abramović is unavailable for comment on the new discovery until after her performance concludes on May 31.