Abramovic is Present (on Film) at the Albright-Knox This Friday

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One of my duties in compiling the calendar of events when working at Buffalo Spree was sorting through the many cool events being held each month at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and I was always excited to see an interesting film screening pop up. (Past examples include the great “Ai Weiei: Never Sorry” and even a recent science fiction film festival.)

This Friday, as part of its monthly M&T First Friday event, the AKAG is screening “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” a documentary by Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre focusing on the wildly unique artist. I had the chance to watch the film on HBO (during a free preview for Fios customers — sigh) and found it fascinating. For a relative Abramovic novice like me, it provided a fine introduction to her work.

Here is what A. O. Scott had to say in the New York Times upon the film’s release:

“’The Artist Is Present,’ the centerpiece of an identically named 2010 retrospective of work by the performance artist Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was one of those rare events that breach the wall dividing the art world from popular culture. Over 90 days — from the beginning of March through the end of May — hundreds of thousands of people streamed through MoMA, lining up (sometimes after camping out on 53rd Street the night before) for the opportunity to see Ms. Abramovic face to face. She sat in a plain wooden chair, gazing straight ahead, silently, into the eyes of whichever museum patron happened to be seated across from her. The effect, as recorded by Matthew Akers in his documentary ‘Marina Abramovic the Artist Is Present,’ was galvanic.”

While the MoMA event is indeed the centerpiece, the documentary also looks in more detail at her career and her personality. And whatever one thinks of Abramovic’s work, the film is compelling, smart, and entertaining.

The screening is free for members, $5 for nonmembers, and opens at 7 p.m. with a lecture by Assistant Curator of Education Jessica DiPalma titled “The World of Marina Abramovic.” The film follows at 7:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of marinafilm.com

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