It was a complete fluke that on a Saturday morning I found myself squeezing through two naked people with my laptop in one hand and camera in the other.
It was exhilarating to be so unsure of myself and to challenge my concept of personal space in such a direct way. I brushed against the woman’s tit with the back of my arm and apologised. It must have been over in two seconds.
This is how I entered Marina Abramović’s The Artist is Present exhibition at the MOMA in May 2010. The naked people piece was called Imponderabilia and it should be noted that when it was originally performed it was the only entrance to the museum and the distance between the two people was greatly reduced, MOMA increased the width in the reenactment and provided an alternative entrance. I was getting personal-confrontation-lite.
It’s very easy to mock Abramović’s work. She harms herself in almost all of her pieces: she’s carved a pentacle into her stomach, laid naked on ice and passed out due to carbon dixoide. Her longest, most recent piece involved her sitting in a big open space and inviting members of the public to sit across from her. She did this every day for three months for seven to ten hours at a time. No drinking, eating or peeing.
But there’s a level of calmness in everything she does and I think that carries across to the viewer. Some of her work is quite confronting to watch, even if it’s grainy black and white footage, there’s an intensity.
Two of my favourite artists, Björk and Lady Gaga are avid fans. Björk sat for the latest piece and her picture is on flickr along with the majority of people that participated. There was an interesting social media bonding that occurred within the participants. They have Facebook groups, tumblrs and an avid fan made a book that he presented to Abramović. It’s interesting to see how this random selection of people have created a sub culture that revolves around her piece.
I’ve been thinking of Marina alot since The Artist is Present. When I went to the exhibition, I knew nothing about her, still don’t, her autobiographical statements are very selective. But her boldness inspires me. More so, the way she continues to test her own boundaries. When I remember her exhibition, I want to do more with my life.
People often know me for having strong, severe stances on things. Thus, when I change my mind – I never hear the end of it. But I don’t care. There’s nothing more boring than a person never changing their mind and staying exactly the same.
Thus, I present to you some of the biggest things I’ve changed my mind about.
- Date a Sri Lankan: This was for obvious reasons. Firstly, I don’t eat curry, secondly, Sri Lankans tend to be secular, thirdly, well, how can I put this, you don’t hear “what an attractive Sri Lankan” that often.
Why I’m glad I changed: Well, the one exception to the rule, I’m still with him and let me tell you, apart from the sometimes awkward moment when he tries to kiss me after chowing down rice and curry, we actually get along.
- Eat Burgers: Believe it or not, dear reader, up until the age of 16 I despised burgers of all kinds, from McDonalds to the gourmet shit you get at fancy restaurants. I distinctly remember my Dad trying to force feed me a cheeseburger at a stop over on the way to the Entrance.
Why I’m glad I changed: Do I really need to explain this one? A good burger is my version of Nirvana. A little garlic aioli, spanish onion, baby spinach and a solid piece of mince. My claim is that my huge consumption now is trying to make up for all the years lost. Same applies for: eating rare steaks.
- Visiting the States: I always demonised the States. It’s easy when McDonalds infiltrated our country and we watched from afar the war that was started after 9/11. Three little words showed the worst version of Americans: George. W. Bush.
Why I’m glad I changed: Disclaimer: I hated my first year in the States. Goes to show how stubborn I can be. I spent so much time looking backwards at what I left behind in Australia that I didn’t see all the friends I had in front of me. Now I miss the States, in a crazy head-over-heels kind of way. I don’t want to say it’s the center of the universe, but you can get important shit done there with less effort and things are cheaper (because labour is cheap). You know how there’s that idea that Americans think the world revolves around them? Well, it rubs off after a while and I began thinking the same way. It’ll be interesting to see if I think the same way in a year.
- Get Married/Change my Last Name: You may not have realised this one (and if you haven’t, get your head checked) but I am a proud feminist. From the age of ten I was swearing that I would never get married. Invest in a ritual that was created so that men could have multiple wives and multiple kids? Support the fact that only heterosexual couples can get married in Australia? I don’t want to be a part of that. As for changing my last name, when hell freezes over. I wanted my potential spouse to change his last name.
Why I’m glad I changed: Well, I really like my fiance. I know it’s important to him that we get married and as long as this means we’re not popping out a kid, I’m ok with it. We negotiated on the last name thing two years ago on a delayed plane to Melbourne. If we don’t get married in a church, I’ll take his last name. Done deal. I chose the lesser of two evils, ha ha. Seriously, he has a cool last name, just as difficult to spell as mine, but once you’ve got it down pact, it rolls off the tongue. Dad, if you’re reading this, I still love Jayasinghe.
- Wear make up: See above feminist rant. Apply it to the make up industry. I’ll only be happy when men start wearing make up and we start shaving our faces. I write this sarcastically, but there’s a thin layer of truth in it.
Why I’m glad I changed: I look fucking good in red lipstick.
What have you changed your mind on? Be proud!