All original images and text are copyright 2008-2018 Liz Sweibel

Monday, March 22, 2010

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present

I took some students to see Abramovic at MoMA Sunday; it was my second visit. I'll return. I'm not ready to put words to it yet, but one of my students, Codi, sat with Abramovic in the Atrium and described it in class this morning as "transcendent." I won't dilute the intensity of Codi's description by paraphrasing it, but here she is during (above) and after (below).

The photos are courtesy of Nina Meledandri, an artist who stood on line with Codi and is blogging about her repeated visits to the performance.

I understand that the catalog for this exhibit is excellent, with an essay by Arthur Danto (who I enjoyed immensely in a conversation with Robert Storr at the 92nd Street Y some time ago) though haven't looked at it yet:  Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just a Moment

The struggle I'm having with how to develop a Web presence and sell work without giving up something that's important to me parallels the struggle I'm having with the work itself. Hmmm. How do I say this?

In my day job, I work with underprepared college students from diverse backgrounds, most underserved in some way. Some are on welfare, some live in shelters, some have done time, some are ill, some have a lot of kids and no partner. I adore them. I love working with them, love what my team gives so generously to them and all that we get back in results and gratitude.

My history, education, and character emerged from - and still largely exist in - a parallel universe. The audience for my artwork has been others in the club plus people not in the club but who live lives that would have them come upon the work at all and have the character and capacity to experience it in some way.

The students I meet who are inclined toward creative work don't know about the Museum of Modern Art, the Met, or the galleries in Chelsea. Coming from the Bronx, most don't know where Chelsea is, yet the college is just blocks away.

I've been struggling to reconcile these situations for months. I recently put together a proposal with two artists, Yoon Cho and Priscilla Stadler, and, in naming the show, was able to articulate this for the first time. We were coming up with these insider names (along the lines of the presence of absence) and I couldn't do it. I didn't want to separate myself so fully from the people I spend my days with. Priscilla works at LaGuardia Community College and knew exactly what I was saying. I needed a title anyone could understand. We went with her suggestion: Just a Moment.

To bring it back downtown: Pushing myself into the virtual community means giving up some of the elitism that I've needed to be taken seriously as an artist. Part of my need is to avoid being lumped in with Sunday painters, craftspeople, flakes, and the hipsters who call themselves artists but really just have a knack for looking like what they think one looks like. I'm equally cautious about being associated with the postmodern anything goes and the postpostmodern surge of youth worship, egomaniacal celebrity artists, and spectacle.

That my work would never put me in either category is a logic that doesn't matter; this is emotional. I've needed a certain kind of separateness for me. If I were to show up on Etsy and Facebook and even, God forbid, start tweeting, what have I conceded to? Why do I see it as conceding anything? If it's so important for me to name the show Just a Moment, what's the leap to making my work accessible? Now there's a word! I'll think on it and save it for my next post.

Friday, March 19, 2010

NYFA Workshop: Selling Art on Line

I signed up for this NYFA workshop without giving myself the luxury of defensiveness about selling work on line. I've been thinking about making a for-sale gallery of drawings and collages on my Web site, but need to find a way that matches the spirit of the site (and its owner). What I learned at this (great) workshop is that it's social media sites and larger marketplaces that can deliver visibility and traffic, and so I need to venture out into the bigger virtual world.

I have work coming out in the next issue of Ekleksographia and am starting to rework my Web site. Joining new sites where people can find my work (myartspace seems to fit) and me (Facebook, though I'm not done resisting that) is the next move in the marketing arena.

I'm showing five photos in Ekleksographia, plus a video on the cover. It's all home-based work, not the property lines photos I thought I'd include (as of my last post). The property lines don't work with the video cover, so they'll go to the Play section of my Web site.

It's all gratifying. Taking the photos is quick and casual; the work of cropping, editing, and distilling them on the Mac is where tension and particularity come into the process. It might be the most conceptual work I've done, and yet the most literal.

My artwork is active, finally, and got that way when I wasn't looking or trying too hard. Good.