blog > 2012 > July

The Artist is indeed Present by Misha Lyuve

Jul 15, 2012


“I test the limits of myself in order to transform myself, but I also take the energy from the audience and transform it. A powerful performance will transform everyone in the room” – Marina Abramovic 

Marina Abramovic is a performance artist that in over 40 years of her career ruthlessly pushed boundaries of physical and mental limitations in her work such that during her performances she was cut, burnt and even almost died once. Just to give you an idea, in one of her performances she prepared 72 objects (e.g. scissors, a gun, a rose, a feather, a scalpel) for audience to use in whichever way they wished while she stayed still for 6 hours (Rhythm 0). And if you were following the past few of my posts, coincidentally, Marina played out her own funeral in a play Life and Death of Marina Abramovic.

The Matthew Akers’ documentary “The Artist is Present”, that recently came out, is about Marina’s life and work. It is named after Marina’s 2010 project at MoMA. 3-month, 736-hour performance involved people sitting with Marina in publicly displayed one-on-one sessions in silence. This eye-gazing exercise overwhelmed participants with emotions, made them cry (this is a fascinating set of pictures from her performance “Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry”), created several-block long lines and drew about 700K visitors to MOMA, like no other exhibition.

I can only imagine the depth of being with Marina one-on-one, but even through watching her in the movie, I was left with an experience that I know this person very intimately. This drawing openness of Marina is no coincidence – I think it is attributed to her working-out her emotional knots and exploring so much of her inner self through her art.

Marina says that unlike theater, in performance “knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real”. There is no place to hide and she made it very clear in all her work. “The Artist is Present” was just the next stepping stone in how much she could push herself to open.

I am much fascinated by the boundaries of consciousness and our physicality and I make my small steps in exploring my inner self. But I am way too terrified of pain and judgments of others to take it to Marina’s scale. I am grateful that someone is showing the way.

In case it didn’t come across – I highly recommend watching “The Artist is Present.”

Preparing my Funeral # 2 by Misha Lyuve

Jul 8, 2012


We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are. – Talmudic saying

If you haven’t read Preparing my Funeral yet, start with it. The post brought back a mixed bag of responses, like concerned questions about me, cheering !! of happy-funeral seekers, to calling my writing self-indulgent and distasteful. Gosh, it is impossible to have you all agree on something.

How about this: you are dying right now. Each living moment takes us one step closer to death. Those who live in a war zone or experienced a life threatening illness are probably much more present to this. But even if your biggest concern at the moment is the temperature of your iced drink - keep sipping, but it doesn’t change the fact.

I believe that if you aspire to be fully engaged in your life journey, you cannot ignore its fundamentals – your own mortality. So thinking, writing, discussing, painting, singing about death is not just fine, but necessary. Your views, judgements, fears, beliefs and not-beliefs about death – whether expressed in open, to yourself in the shower or hidden in the dark corners of your unconsciousness – shape the way you participate in life. However awkward or scary it might seem, I say bring them out to the open and set judgements aside.

For example, people ask me why I do so many things. Simple. Here is a situation that, so to speak, scares me to death: I am lying on my deathbed with an idea that I wanted to do something and I didn’t try it. Even writing this sentence makes my neck sweat and my eyeballs dry up. No! No! No! I’d rather make a fool of myself. I’d rather fail in everything I tried and die with a background of subtle whispers: “he was such a loser.”

Apart from this, what’s scares me about dying: medical procedures, pain and helpless states that are often associated with it. I say:

If you’re putting me to rest

Make it easy, smooth and fast

Now it’s your turn. What is your story?