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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:

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...

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

  1. this is where we are at right now. is this a mere tiny pothole that will barely be noticed in 10, 20, 30 years? or is this a cliff with Jay Z as the proverbial brick placed on the accelerator?

  2. I was a skeptic the first time I heard of this! But after some time to think about it, and also after seeing it and hearing Jay Z speak about it, I now realize the important message behind why he chose to do this! Any time a member of such high popular culture can bring attention to the finer arts, I don’t see anything wrong with that! Will this become a trend amongst rappers and the rap world? No, of course not! But I don’t think that was Jay Z’s intention! There is a reason why the greater population of African American community as a whole do not embrace the finer arts as much as white America, and anytime a very popular and very successful African American entertainer such as Jay Z can bring attention to this problem and in a sense say to the black community, it’s ok to embrace the fine arts, it’s ok to pursue a career or a stronger interest in the fine arts, I say to that, what’s wrong with that? Bravo Jay Z, bravo!

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