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Reviews for June 13th, 2012

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

Directed by Matthew Akers

      Marina Abramovic exhibited her very unconventional artwork at MoMA back in 2010. This wildly entertaining documentary follows her as she prepares for the three-month show which included naked men and women in various poses, and even her own self as she sat in a chair while staring into the eyes of individuals who sat directly across from her. To explain any of her artworks wouldn't do them any justice because they're meant to be experienced, especially when it comes to the powerful emotions that others express when simply staring into her eyes. Would explaining or fully understanding her artwork make them more powerful? Probably not. Those unfamiliar with her artwork, in particular, will be amazed at her boldness, honesty, humanity and pureness which initially feels pretentious and just plain bizarre. However, the more you observe her process and learn more about her, the more aware you'll become of her brilliance as an artist.

      Director Matthew Akers also shows Abramovic's wit, charisma, and articulate manner of expression. She's clearly not one of those inarticulate, dull artists whose work is more interesting than their personality. In one particular part of the preparation, she suggests that the show should include a fake bloodbath where she ends up dead and then resurrected back to life. She eventually backs down from that suggestion once she realizes how inappropriate that would be in a venue such as MoMA. It's also interesting to learn about the dynamics between her and her ex-husband, Ulay, who shows up for the exhibition.

      Is her show's nudity pornographic or artistic? Akers wisely doesn't judge Abramovic's art by letting it speak for itself which allows for you to come to your own conclusions about both the art and the artist. There's no denying, though, that she's an artist who's not averse to risk and that her artwork will provoke you both emotionally and intellectually.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the Film Forum.
Released by Music Box Films.

UFO in Her Eyes

Directed by Xiaolu Guo

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at MoMA.

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