Marina Abramovic, the performance artist whose retrospective closed at the Museum of Modern Art on Memorial Day, last night answered what she said was the number one question about her performance in the exhibit, in which she sat in the museum's atrium facing museum visitors all day every day during the exhibit's run: "How did I pee?"
In her MoMA performance, called, as was the retrospective, http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/965, Abramovic sat in an armless chair, on a pillow, facing an individual visitor--the famous like Sharon Stone, Lou Reed, James Franco, Isabella Rossellini, Marisa Tomei and Bjork, but, more often, the not-so-famous--who sat in the same kind of chair; initially they were separated by a table, which was later removed.
Speaking at MoMA, surrounded by 36 performance artists who, during the retrospective, recreated her pieces on the museum's sixth floor, Abramovic said her chair had a "little hole." After three days of sitting on it, she said it became "so clear to me I will never use it. I never have the urge to pee, I sat on a pillow."
To prepare for her marathon performance--her longest to date, 716.5 hours long, with Abramovic facing 1,545 visitors--the artist said she became a vegetarian (something she normally is not) six months before the exhibit, eating light food based on grains. And she said she trained herself to wake up every 45 minutes at night to drink water and remain hydrated.
Abramovic also explained her fashion choices during the marathon. She said the blue dress she wore during the first month "calmed" her mind; "my brain was moving 360,000 miles per hour." The red dress the second month symbolized the "enormous amount of physical pain" she was experiencing, particularly from her armless chair--which she said she would change if she were to perform the piece again--and her legs swelling. The white dress, worn during the final month, represented "clarity, the immaterial."
Abramovic also said her eyes created "incredible problems," but that she walked out on a doctor whom she consulted when he asked, "Why are you doing this to your eyes?"
Klaus Biesenbach, curator of the Abramovic exhibit, said the artist called him on April 30 to ask if she could remove the table separating her from museum visitors, "to be directly with the audience." Although he said he had some misgivings about this, "Marina took it away."
Asked if she could reperform "The Artist is Present," Abramovic said, "Of course we could reperform it. It's really a kind of piece about awareness, stillness. It opened the door to me to aspects of performance."