It Gets Meta: Performance Artist Slams Performance Artist With A Performance

Maria Abramovic, The Artist is Present, a live performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Maria Abramovic, The Artist is Present, a live performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Photo: Wikipedia.

Most people who decide the art world is too pretentious and ego-ridden make a blog post about it and go on with their day. A writer might scrawl an angry poem or post a cutting illustration as commentary.

Or you could do as Lisa Levy, artist, comedian, and psychotherapist, is doing and go all the way across the road into mimesis-as-satire. Mimesis is an ancient concept and was introduced by the Greeks. It provided a context for the development of art and theater. It’s a form of reflection or mimicry. From that reflection we see our lives acted out on a stage or in a work of visual art.

Levy is inspired/infuriated by and responds with mimicry to Marina Abramovic’s 2010 performance The Artist Is Present. In Artist, Abramovic sat motionless at a table in the Museum of Modern Art for 72 hours, opposite an empty chair that invited an audience member to sit with her. All that made it art was that the artist said it was.

Well, Levy doesn’t think that’s enough to make an act art. She identifies “ego and pretense” as having seriously damaged “the quality of work being made in the art world,” she said via her Facebook page.

So Levy is, in a way, recreating Abramovic’s work. But instead of a floor-length gown, she’ll be nude. And because her stance is that the modern art worked is questionable, she’s replaced the table and chairs with two toilets. For two days, Levy will sit on an unplumbed toilet from 1-6pm in Christopher Stout Gallery in New York. She’ll be nude, silent, and still, but you’re invited to join her if you like. For art.

Levy has decided that Abramovic’s work is about ego and therefor deserving of a scathing performance in response. In a way Levy isn’t simply critiquing The Artist Is Present, she’s participating in it. She may not be in the same space as the artist but when Levy sits on her toilet she will be sitting across from Abramovic. I wonder if Levy will be able to see her?

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