Every time I look at this photo of myself, I feel like I am looking at someone else that is not me. I have no idea what is going through my mind at the exact moment this photo was taken. I can’t tell if this occurred at the beginning of my sit, when I was stiff and uncomfortable, my heart beating almost painfully at the awareness that I was being watched. Both by strangers observing and by Marina herself. I had expected my mind to be racing but instead it was blank. Maybe this was taken a couple minutes in, when I found the entire situation funny — though not funny in an absurd sense, but enjoyable funny. I giggled, but probably in my mind, because I was too scared to contort my face, too afraid to smile. I felt compelled to hold the same expressionless face that she did, although judging from other photos in the set, people made all sorts of faces. I felt like I couldn’t, for some reason. Her face was straight, but her expression soft. And even though her stare was strong, never letting my eyes drop for a second, I didn’t feel like they were harsh. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Was she trying to figure out who I was? My essence? Or was she just looking, observing?
Maybe this photo was taken toward the end of the session, when my eyes began to hurt from the bright lights and the murmur of the observing folk around us began to fade away. I felt like I was becoming trance-like and considered how when why I would finally know to get up. I almost came out of the trance, and then fell even deeper into it. I can’t remember what I was thinking about other than this. Suddenly, it just felt like the right moment to bow my head, close my eyes, and walk away. I felt like I had been sitting for around fifteen minutes – it turned out to be thirty-two.
I felt it necessary to walk straight out of the museum, nodding goodbye to my new friends from the line, and outside before I could even utter a word. Then I called my friends and told them as I walked to class it felt like I was floating. I had a headache. My eyes hurt. It was so cool. Yes. It just felt good. I think it is something everyone should try. The opportunity to have a connection — profound or totally meaningless — with a complete stranger is a rare and exhilarating thing. Or even just staring into someone’s eyes until one person, or both people, arbitrarily decide to stop — this is something I want to do with people.
I’m also quite sure that Marina has honed her telepathic abilities. I’m not even being sarcastic. She has probably learned to read minds, judge facial cues and look deeply into people’s eyes to learn something about them. This is totally possible.
I have been obsessed with looking through these photographs. Seeing how different everyone’s faces are…it’s fascinating. You know how they say that if you stare at something long enough, patterns will emerge? Well, I’ve found a few interesting ones in here. The prominence of certain facial features, one girl who has come in many different costumes (find the burka and go from there!), the repeats, the smilers, the criers, the celebrities. I find that when I walk around New York, I pay more attention to the detail of people’s faces, and take notice of the juxtaposition of one face with the face of the person next to them.
Marina Abramovic’s piece, The Artist is Present, has been getting a fair amount of buzz. These are some commentaries worth checking out:
I would love to hear other peoples’ experiences with this exhibit and piece.