About being there

Testing my workshop method and planning the final presentation of the collected evidence has made me circle back to some of the resources I used earlier this year.

When I was reflecting on my project and deciding which aspects to pull out for the final presentation, I decided to re-watch Marina Abramovic’s Ted talk about performance art, vulnerability, and the impact and place of her own work in our current fast-paced society.

The connection between Marina Abramovic’s work – what likely also attracted me to include her work in my research – and my project is the idea of creating moments of self-reflection where individuals can connect with them selves and be truly present in the experience. As Marina Abramovic says when she talks about the her work in a contemporary context, there is a need for ‘people to actually experience something different’ (Abramovic, 2015). When I started my research, I did not set out to create something that people would find ‘nice’ or ‘interesting’, I wanted to offer people a chance to truly experience something; strong emotions, new thoughts, something different.

Abramovic (2015) says that the art of performance is ‘all about being there, in the real time’ and that performance is something you can’t rehearse.  Performance is about creating moments and experiences. What matters is the process and sometimes transformation that the performer and the participant go through. In a similar way – through active participation and discussions – the deconstruction workshop can result in small individual performances; moments where people perform by sharing their story in front themselves and the group.

In her talk, Marina Abramovic also mentions how she regards immaterial art such as music and performance the highest forms of art. Although I am not entirely convinced the question about what good art is can be answered this easily, her statement does say something about what the essence of art is: process and experience. And it is through process and experience that the transformational power of art and creativity becomes accessible.

As a result of her performance ‘The Artist is Present‘ at the museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010, an idea for an institute that seeks to blur the line between the performer and the public and invites the viewer to engage with immaterial works, was born. With the institute and a method she has developed as a result of her work she aims to explore the roles of artist and viewer. Similarly, my method seeks to explore the relationship between creator, process, and outcome by questioning the role of things such as subject, medium, and product.

Based on feedback and observations from my workshop method interventions, it is clear that the method needs more structure and that the tasks need ritualistic elements; participants will benefit from having specific instructions. Some further questions to be explored then, could be: How can the process be developed with other types of media and practices, such as drawing, repetition, and meditative elements. How can time/space within and between the tasks add value to the process of self-reflection and creativity? And where does performance happen during the process?


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