©Rahi Rezvani 2013
Once upon a time, art was about something. In a golden era before investment bankers ruined the world, bespectacled New Yorkers with exotic accents and nicotine addictions extolled immaterial consciousness as derived from tangible, superseding matter itself…but not anymore.
In a new twist on Dadaist, Expressionist, and Minimalist movements, Marina Abramovic is in the midst of a gossipy and genuinely meaningless fight about “nothing”—literally, nothing. That’s the name of the art piece. Abramovic’s is technically called 512 hours, but not her inspiration’s.
This is a lovely example of something completely useless being turned into something even more useless, in which Abramovic is being pitted against her predecessors on a catty quest for authentic appropriation. Move over, Richard Prince. This is the soundtrack of our lives.
My old Smith College professor, Frazer Ward, a deliciously albeit notoriously deadpan Australian, is also in the mix to chime displeasure. (He was my favorite but I’m all but positive I wasn’t his). As the heavy-hitters of my educational background continue play a significant role in the hugely insignificant art world, I’m enduringly glad that those four years of overeating in the dining hall and masturbatory classroom discussions with my fellow woman (or the rare unicorn, a scrawny and unimpressive Western Massachusetts male, not to mention well-represented members of the ever-evolving gender spectrum) continue to do absolutely nothing for anyone. Moving on.
So, speaking of nothing for no one, Abramovic’s upcoming exhibition at Serpentine Gallery does not cite Mary Ellen Carroll’s two-decade-long study of nothing. Many performance art experts are concerned that no recognition will stifle Carroll’s career and prevent any further, comparably marginal recognition.
Does no one else think this hilarious? Nothing about another artist, putting her everything into nothingness, so that soon she will only be able to do nothing, instead of “nothing”? What the hell is this? The Guardian prints, “’Nothing’ is a project that Mary Ellen Carroll, a New York-based conceptual artist, has been working on since the 1990s.” I’ve been working on nothing since I came out of the womb sobbing in 1988, and you don’t hear me complaining.
In previous op-eds, I have addressed the world’s obsession with Marina Abramovic’s magnificent ability to do nothing. This is as old a tale as the one to which her wrinkle-free face is so gently hinting. She could be Milli Vanilli and her magical aura would mask it.
The plan for the performance is to interact with the public in a room with no fine art. Nothing but the public and the artist. Kind of like Michael Jackson’s Man in The Mirror.
I think nothing will come of this tiff.
Check out some of my other, less sarcastic musings on the artist in question: