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Posts Tagged ‘Marina Abramovic’


Marina Abramović, Jay-Z, and Andres Serrano

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

While covering the Jay-Z video shoot at Pace Gallery yesterday, I became better aware of the inspiration for the video in the form of Marina Abramović’s performance piece, “The Artist is Present” at MoMA, which took place in 2010. I did not attend that exhibition, and to be honest, while I learned that she sat in MoMA’s atrium for two months, it was a little difficult to make the connection with Jay-Z’s video concept until I saw some pictures and video footage of Abramović’s performance. As you can see in the picture below, she sat in a simple wood chair at a wooden table with a second chair facing her from the opposite side. Any museum visitor could take that seat, and sit looking at her for any amount of time that they felt comfortable doing so. Each “sitter” was photographed by Marco Anelli, and you can see all of them (and how long they sat) at MoMA’s interactive gallery here.

view of Abramovic's performance art piece at MoMA

With this visual reference point, we can now see a little more clearly how Jay-Z was referencing this performance art piece: he had a simple wooden bench on which a visitor would sit, and he would move from his white pedestal down to the bench to rap to each individual, as you can see in the pictures below.

Jay-Z rapping to individual visitors at Pace Gallery, including Andres Serrano

So while it’s somewhat interesting that he’s paying homage to Abramović, and I like the idea that people can get introduced to an artist’s work via a hip hop song, the performance aspect of this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me in regards to the lyrics of the song. Here’s a few segments of the lyrics that relate to art: “I just want a Picasso, in my casa … I wanna Rothko … Jeff Koons balloons, I just wanna blow up … Christies with my missy, live at the MoMA … I’m the new Jean Michel, surrounded by Warhols … Spray everything like SAMO … I’m the modern day Pablo …” and so forth. I don’t know if I’m thinking too literally, or too simply, but I would have thought he’d have some of those artists’ work in the video. What do you think?

I mentioned Andres Serrano in the title of the post … why? Because he’s the one sitting on the bench in the 3rd picture, above right, and below left. What’s Serrano up to these days, one might ask? It’s been a long time since he was in the news all of the time for his notorious photos using corpses, feces, and bodily fluids, among other things. I actually just saw a piece of his at VA MoCA (the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art) a few weeks ago. The exhibition was titled “Contemporary Magic: A Tarot Deck Art Project,” in which a wide range of contemporary artists were asked to create a tarot card, which the museum assembled to make an entire deck. Serrano’s contribution was “The Hierophant,” which in some tarot card decks is named “The Pope,” representing the fifth trump or Major Arcana card. The Hierophant is supposed to be the builder of the bridge between deity and humanity. Serrano’s Hierophant, though, looks like Batman … don’t you think?

Hierophant from Tarot Card deck as portrayed by photographer Andres Serrano

I actually saw some of Andres Serrano’s work at The Armory Show back in March as well – the pair of photographs below seem like a departure from the Serrano work I’m familiar with, so it was interesting to see. Below left we have “Family of Enrique Rottenberg, Miramar, Havana,” from 2012; below right we have “Juana Rios Rios, Juana de Cubana, Fortune Teller,” also from 2012.

I think my free association rambling has gotten the best of me, as we somehow went from performance art at MoMA to Jay-Z to Andres Serrano to Cuban fortune tellers … oh well, here’s the pictures.

photographs by Andres Serrano


Jay-Z shooting video for “Picasso Baby” at Pace Gallery today

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

We got an inside tip this morning that Jay-Z would be shooting a video for his new song “Picasso Baby” at the Pace Gallery on 25th Street today, and it’s underway right now. No evidence yet of any real Picasso paintings hanging around, but considering Pace Gallery’s stature, it wouldn’t be impossible. Here’s a clip of Jay-Z dancing with artist Marina Abramović, and we understand the story behind this is: Jay-Z’s video will capture a performance partly inspired by artist Marina Abramovic’s 2010 MoMA exhibition “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present.” In her performance, Abramović invited anyone willing to wait in line to sit across from her in MoMA’s atrium, where she sat during business days for almost two months, or about 736 hours total. For his version, Jay-Z is interacting with guests for just six hours, rapping “Picasso Baby” at them repeatedly. Jay-Z likely became an Abramović fan via Ricardo Tisci, the Givenchy creative director who designed the album art and tour costumes for his last album with Kanye West – Watch The Throne. Tisci has been friends with Abramović for years—he was one of the last people to sit across from her during “The Artist Is Present.”


Real person, or more hyper-realist sculpture?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Our last post with the security guard was definitely a hyper-realist sculpture, but what about this art work/installation at the 2012 Armory Show? Is this woman real, or what? Most of the other viewers in the area also had to step in close to try to determine the answer to this question. I watched her closely for a while, and she didn’t move a muscle … no sign of breathing, no movement whatsoever. But looking at her face, and especially the skin on her hand (below right), she seems very much a real person … but just really good at holding still!

I later found out the piece is called Bed for Human Use, by Serbian artist Marina Abramović. I wonder how long this woman stayed still?

Marina Abramovic Bed for Human Use at the 2012 Armory Show

Marina Abramovic sculpture and performance piece Bed for Human Use


Vincent Van Gogh at Artsology Artsology offers free online games about the arts, and delivers investigations into topics in the visual arts, music, and literature. Artsology is a good resource for fun learning about the arts for people of all ages and is enjoyed by students, homeschoolers, and adults. Follow us on Twitter or become a fan of our Facebook page. Pablo Picasso paintings at Artsology

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