March 15, 2010  |  Collection & Exhibitions, Tech
Live-Streaming Marina Abramović: Crazy or Brave?

“We want to live-stream a silent woman, sitting still in a chair all day for three months.”—Paraphrased from a meeting a few weeks ago, followed by the sound of my hand hitting my forehead.

Screenshot from performance by Marina Abramović, MoMA, March 9, 2010

Screenshot from performance by Marina Abramović, MoMA, March 9, 2010

Working in a department that interfaces with the Internet (home of zany fun like Is This Art? and my new favorite site Selleck Waterfall Sandwich), you get used to hearing a lot of unusual ideas getting presented as Things We Need To Be Doing Right Away. I guess I should be used to it by now, since MoMA is a museum that has in its collection an alleged can of poop.

So when the Marina Abramović exhibition was starting to come together, the staff in all the departments here struggled with how best to communicate the ideas in the exhibition online—since so much of the point of performance art has to do with being in a location, in a moment in time, live. Honestly, I don’t know much about performance. A line from a funny little video made by a friend came to mind: “Here lies the sea captain, many men wondered whether he was crazy or brave.” I thought this live stream might be more of the former. And I knew that anything that seemed this simple technically would inevitably be more complicated than just turning on a laptop and connecting a webcam. I whined and ranted like a toddler.

But the project persisted in spite of my crankiness, hurdles were cleared, and we now have Marina Abramović’s performance in the Marron Atrium, a new work titled The Artist Is Present, streaming on the exhibition site, presumably for the duration of the exhibition. As the artist sat down in the chair to begin the performance, and I watched the stream from my office, I began to understand why people get excited about her work, and why maybe sometimes the craziest of ideas are the best and should be embraced. And I thought that maybe I should leave my cubicle and go downstairs to see for myself.

What do you think—harebrained Internet scheme, or a great way to engage with art?