A Resource for Performing Artists, Scholars and Audiences.
May I add my voice to the certain choir of congratulations and the flood of thank yous.
I visited MoMA the final week of the retrospective, wanting to feel the energy of the end. On the last Wednesday, I stood for nine hours on the line, waiting: two hours outside before the museum opened, and the whole day in the atrium. I was 29th in line. I was happy to wait; I wanted to witness. I decided not to leave my spot in line, not to ask my neighbor to hold my place. I did not sit or lean or eat or drink or pee or shift my spot at all. I held my place, mindfully. It was the least I could do. I remembered how you taught us. I remembered myself again. I thank you for this.
Although I have been sick all year with a chronic fatigue retro virus, I found new strength in the waiting. Now, I believe in myself, and in my ability to continue my work with a renewed purpose. Nine hours was not so long; it was not so hard. I know my strength is greater than my fear. I thank you for this.
The day I waited, I yearned to reach the chair, the goal. But it was a day, like many others, that one person sat for hours. She sat with you from noon until closing. The talk on the line was that she had asked the kind woman right behind her to hold her spot, early that morning, so she could pre-print her admission ticket and buy a coffee. The woman did so, willingly, in the spirit of camaraderie. Then the sitter turned her back on the kind woman, hogging the chair, usurping her spot. Usurping the spots of all of us. It felt like a bold choice, a slap in the face of each patient waiter. This was the last week, after all, the last chance. It made me angry, and also allowed me to reflect on all the greed in our world, especially in Western culture. The oil spill, the economy, the undervalued and exploited. I felt the pain of the many, many oppressed, the neglected, the powerless. But in the hours, my feelings opened up to meet my willingness. I gradually had less anger and more compassion. I felt compassion, initially and strongly, for the woman next in line; I grew to feel compassion for the long-sitter as well. She was so needy or so damaged as to require that energy from you, from all of us. But it was not until you slightly shifted your leg, the subtlest movement in hours of being stock still, that your own humanness and suffering flooded me and I felt my tears. Your generosity marked the possibility of kindness in each of us. So, I had my moment with the work. Understanding the power of duration, it took me nearly nine hours to have that single, knowing moment. It was more than worth it. I thank you for this.
Several of my art students came during the three months to wait in line, and one or two actually got to sit with you. They have begun to appreciate attentiveness and purpose in their own work; they know it comes through me from you, a living lineage. I thank you for this.
That I got to see some old friends—some of my former students visiting from overseas, and some IPG pals: the beautiful Snežana and Anna and Davide—was a surprise and a delight. It reminded me of my community; the work brought so many together. I thank you for this.
The retrospective upstairs was also a vital and dynamic exhibition. Edging performance in from the margins, the overview offered an experience, abundant and full, to many who continue to debate and deconstruct and celebrate performance in particular, and art in general. It is emotion and dialogue that catalyze change and growth. “The Artist is Present” is a benchmark now. I thank you for this.
Marina, you have done it again, like no one else. You have altered the landscape of art, the landscape of intention and interaction. By bringing stillness and self-reflection and willingness and courage and communion and compassion again to a national and global dialogue, you have healed our world a bit more. If one woman—plus 1545 sitters, plus the thousands waiting, plus the millions watching, live and on-line—are all willing, then surely a spiritual revolution is at hand. For this, especially, I thank you.
Love to you,