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When I read New York Magazine’s explanation of how people got to sit with the artist in her MoMA atrium work titled, “The Artist Is Present” (2010), I got pretty mad. I don’t think that I was the only one who wanted the whole thing to be somewhat democratic egalitarian, even though I suspected it wouldn’t be, but the reality is worse than I imagined:
But the number of everyday museum visitors who make it to the front of the line may be as low as the number of people who get a table at Minetta Tavern via the reservation line. That’s because the door policy is anything but democratic: Every day by 10:30, when the museum officially opens, ten to fifteen people are already waiting inside, having taken advantage of the early access granted to employees. And they aren’t even first on the list, because just before the show begins, Abramovic’s assistant brings in a handful of VIPs who skip the line altogether. Because some people choose to sit with Abramovic for an hour or longer, this means that, occasionally, not even MoMA employees make it in front of her. Last Thursday, for instance, only nine people sat with the artist, and Björk and her family accounted for a third of them.
And then there’s the VIP line of Abramović’s friends, friends of the artist’s assistant, and everyday celebritites (New York is full of them).
I’ll be the first to admit that I have Abramović fatigue — do we have to see ALL those pictures of people sitting with her — but the fact that she’s far from accessible makes me dislike a work by her that I actually once liked. The whole “artist as celebrity” thing is getting pretty boring. I’m not saying that all art needs to be democratic all the time but I will tend to support art works that are over those that aren’t.
Hat tip Art Fag City