I love the simplicity of Marina Abramovic’s performance The Artist is Present as well as its profundity. Members of the public were invited to sit opposite Abramovic across a table and look into her eyes. To me The Artist is Present captures the essence of performance: an encounter between spectator and performer, live human contact. And although we encounter people on a daily basis, performance can create human contact of a different quality. It’s hard to describe this quality; it’s almost elusive, but I know that it has to do with the attitude - or call it ethics - of the performer: how inviting they are, what they are willing to give, how they are thinking about the audience, their intentions, and how they connect. And most importantly, that they are doing something that their audience possibly wouldn’t do or consider doing before joining the performance. (Apparently Abramovic sat at the table, static and silent, for 736 hours and 30 minutes in total.) And to me it doesn’t matter whether this happens in live art, spoken word, dance or theatre. What counts is the quality of the encounter…
PS I wish they hadn't used that sentimental music in the video below. It clearly wasn't needed!