Tuesday, November 29, 2011


 Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Controversial art figure Marina Abramovic, finds herself having to answer to recent allegations ignited by a Sara Wookey (an auditioner for Abramovic's curated show for the   MOCA Gala that took place on November 11, 2011) and made public knowledge due to Yvonne Rainer (a prominent dancer/performance artist in her own her right) who wrote the now viral letter to the Director of MOCA (Modern Museum of California), Jeffrey Deitch. 

The letter in question —attention to Deitch and signed by a community of distinguished art figures— addressed concerns and perhaps out right disdain, for the process and rigorous conditions that Abramovic puts artist for hire to do her shows, in light of the recent auditions for the gala's performance art menu.  

According to Wookey:
I was offered the role of one of six nude females to re-enact Abramovic's signature work, "Nude with Skeleton" (2002), at the center of tables with seats priced at up to $100,000 each. I turned it down. I refused to participate as a performer because, [it] turned out to be an unfairly remunerated job. I was expected to lie naked and speechless on a slowly rotating table, starting from before guests arrived and lasting until after they left (a total of nearly four hours). I was expected to ignore (by staying in what Abramovic refers to as "performance mode") any potential physical or verbal harassment while performing. I was expected to commit to fifteen hours of rehearsal time, and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement stating that if I spoke to anyone about what happened in the audition I was liable for being sued by Bounce Events, Marketing, Inc., the event’s producer, for a sum of $1 million dollars plus attorney fees.
Rainer's letter is even more condemning and accusatory. Below is a piece from its entirety, (which was also supported and signed by other prominent art figures such as Art Historian, Douglas Crimp, Choreographer, Taisha Paggett, and Art History Professor at the University of California among countless others):
This description is reminiscent of “Salo,” Pasolini’s controversial film of 1975 that dealt with sadism and sexual abuse of a group of adolescents at the hands of a bunch of post-war fascists. Reluctant as I am to dignify Abramovic by mentioning Pasolini in the same breath, the latter at least had a socially credible justification in the cause of anti-fascism. Abramovic and MOCA have no such credibility, only a flimsy personal rationale about eye contact. Subjecting her performers to public humiliation at the hands of a bunch of frolicking donors is yet another example of the Museum’s callousness and greed and Ms Abramovic’s obliviousness to differences in context and to some of the implications of transposing her own powerful performances to the bodies of others. An exhibition is one thing — this is not a critique of Abramovic’s work in general — but titillation for wealthy diners as a means of raising money is another.
Have a watch at Abramovic (at least for the first 15-30 minutes or so of the video featured above) defend herself at the Harvard GSD (Grad School of Design) event hosted by Sanford Kwinter (Professor of Theory and Criticism at Harvard's GSD).  Abramovic addresses the MOCA gala controversy regarding how she utilizes her artists, the nature and history of her long term professional relationship with Yvonne Rainer and the creative process and thinking behind her more sexually tendentious works.  

To read the full story by Sara Wookey, go HERE.   And Yvonne Rainer's full letter is also viewable, HERE

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