Day 18, Marina Abramović, originally uploaded by MoMA The Museum of Modern Art.
The show was compelling, right down to the final minutes. Even as I watched via the Marina Cam. The final visitor stood up shortly before 5pm, moved toward Abramovic, and embraced her. I was shocked. She then stood up and had a long bow, a stretch, before standing up to face the crowd. The camera, trained on the atrium for some weeks now, has no sound, but I could see the ring of hands applauding.
The Abramovic show at MoMA is the single most powerful visual art show I have encountered in my lifetime. And I have encountered many, and many that have moved me in surprising ways. I knew the show would be powerful, which is why I drove down. Just for the show. As familiar as I am with her work I wasn’t prepared for the wash of emotion. Real, complicated, intellectual emotion, but also at a gut level the kind of emotion poets, it seems to me, only dream of evoking in their readers. Only dream of accomplishing in their work. 
The show was so powerful I couldn’t see anything else after. There were several other shows worth seeing, but there was no way. I walked into the Women and Photography room but had to walk immediately out. It’s a feeling I’ve had a lot of lately. A sensation of being absolutely starved for genuine emotion. To be genuinely moved by a work of art–be it visual or literary. 
The only thing to do after seeing the show was to spend time with Abramovic in the atrium. There were about thirty people waiting in line to sit with her, but even if there had only been two, I wouldn’t have sat. Not that I didn’t want to sit across from her, but partly because I was already crying before I walked into the room, and also because Abramovic is one of those artists I would rather have to my imagination. I want her work, selfishly, unfettered by direct human interaction.Tempting as facing her is/was.
 

Just take a look at the slideshow over at her Flickr page. It’s amazing. Everything about this show is amazing: watch the slide show of people sitting with Abramovic here. You can see how varied and ordinary, and beautiful these faces are. They are not the steady stream of hipsters one might assume relating to a performance or conceptual artist. They are people. People from all walks of life–another poet dream it seems to me. Speaking outside of one’s small, critical circles. 


After returning to Montreal I continued to peak in on the show via the MoMa webcam, and was able to track down the people sitting with Abramovic while I was there. This woman was sitting when we arrived. She sat for some time…it says precisely on the Flickr page actually.

It would have been fun to arrive on the day Bjork was there. This guy apparently came back seven times. He was compelled.

What would it mean to encounter compelling poetry? What is the last book of poetry that you picked up and could not put down? What verse inscribes itself? What line or image makes it impossible to hold back the visceral, the physical response? More on both the specifics of the show, the power of conceptual art/writing for women, and hopefully some equally compelling poetry…